NEW YORK—Gerrit Cole shook off rare control problems to pitch four-hit ball over seven innings and give the Yankees their most dominant stretch of starting pitching in 89 years, leading New York over the Chicago White Sox 7–0 Saturday for a five-game winning streak.
Cole (6–2) allowed four singles, struck out seven and walked as many as three for the first time since Aug. 31. Rebounding from his worst outing this season, he lowered his ERA to 1.81 and ended the day with a 100.8 mph fastball that Andrew Vaughn took for a called third strike, Cole’s fastest pitch this season and the fourth-fastest of his big league career.
Cole extended the scoreless streak by Yankees starters to 30 innings.
“They’ve been terrific,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously, this run, they’re on right now is really impressive.”
Following Corey Kluber’s no-hitter at Texas and outings by Domingo Germán’s against the Rangers and Jordan Montgomery in Friday night’s series opener, Cole gave the Yankees four straight starts of seven shutout innings for the first time since May 11–16, 1932 (Johnny Allen vs. the St. Louis Browns, George Pipgras and Red Ruffing vs. Chicago and Lefty Gomez vs. Cleveland).
“It’s a lot of fun to play behind guys when they’re throwing the ball they way they have in the last few days,” New York center fielder Brett Gardner said.
Cole’s lack of control was unusual. He walked five in 57 2/3 innings coming in and had a record streak of 61 strikeouts between walks. Cole issued three walks for the second time since signing a $324 million, nine-year contract before the 2020 season.
“I think maybe a couple of calls that he didn’t get up in the strike zone,” Boone said. “But I think he made adjustments, coupled with, in that first inning or two, he was finding his delivery and finding his timing and everything, but he really settled in and made some I thought some subtle adjustments throughout that outing.”
Cole has 92 strikeouts, the most by for the Yankees through 10 starts.
“I thought we had some good pitch selection early, even though I wasn’t quite as sharp as I wanted to be,” Cole said. “I made some pitches in some good spots to get ground balls, and I think we just settled in, a little more concise, efficient with the delivery.”
Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa finished the five-hitter. The Yankees lead the major leagues in shutouts and have eight in the first 46 games for the fourth time after 1958 (nine), 1955 (eight) and 1910 (nine).
New York has outscored opponents 13–1 in the last four games and clinched its seventh straight series win, moving a season-high eight games over .500 at 27–19. The five-game winning streak matched the Yankees’ season-high and made them 22–9 since a 5–10 start.
Before a season-high crowd of 14,665 on an 86-day afternoon as pandemic restrictions were eased, Gleyber Torres followed Friday night’s walk-off hit with three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run double. He has raised his average to a season-high .268 from .182 before play on April 21.
“When he’s getting a pitch, he’s putting it in play now with authority,” Boone said of Torres.
Mike Ford hit a 447-foot home run over right-field bullpen
New York’s defense, improved considerably in recent weeks, turned four double plays and could have had a fifth had second baseman Rougned Odor not dropped a ball for an error while making a turn. A day after starting a triple play, third baseman Gio Urshela threw out Nick Madrigal trying to score on Tim Anderson’s eighth-inning grounder.
“It was a luxury to turn all the double plays,” Cole said. “We played our tails off on defense. That was fun to be a part of.”
Dylan Cease (2–1) allowed a season-high five runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Chicago lost consecutive games for the first time since April 15-17.
“It’s been two rough days. This isn’t fun,” Chicago manager Tony La Russa said.
Torres hit a go-ahead, two-run double on a knuckle-curve in a three-run fourth and scored on Odor’s double, then hit a two-run single on a change from Matt Foster in the fifth. Ford homered leading off the sixth, and Miguel Andujar hit an RBI double in the seventh.
Luke Voit went 1 for 4 with a walk as he became only the third reigning big league home run champion to hit leadoff, according to the YES Network. Washington’s Frank Howard hit first on Oct. 1, 1969, against Boston when he started his final game of the regular season tied with Minnesota’s Harmon Killebrew for the AL home run title. Howard went 0 for 3 and walk as Killebrew homered at the Chicago White Sox. Mark McGwire, unable to play the field due to patella tendinitis in his right knee, hit first, grounded to shortstop and came out of St. Louis’ game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, 2000.
Yankees: OF Clint Frazier (neck stiffness) missed his fifth straight game. … RHP Darren O’Day played catch on the field, his first time throwing since he was sidelined by a rotator cuff strain in his pitching shoulder. He last pitched April 29. … CF Aaron Hicks was returning to his home in Arizona for surgery next week on the torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. … RHP Luis Severino threw a simulated game Wednesday for the second time since Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27 last year is close to starting a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment. … 3B coach Phil Nevin is still testing positive for COVID-19.
By Larry Fleisher