DETROIT — As Aaron Boone made his way to the mound to knock out Gerrit Cole in the second inning, the Yankees ace stuck his hand in his glove five times.
When asked what was going through his mind at the time, Cole replied, “Lots of four-letter words.”
Cole probably wasn’t the only one with those thoughts after his third straight lackluster start to the year, with Tuesday being by far the worst.
On a freezing night in Detroit, where the temperature during the game was 43 degrees with 19 mph winds, Cole allowed a career-high two runs and five walks in just 1 ²/₃ innings during the Yankees 4-2 win at Comerica Park.
After the shortest outing of his career, Cole’s ERA is 6.35.
“I’ve definitely never had anything like this in my career,” Cole said. “But it’s not something we can’t get through.”
The results so far haven’t been encouraging for the $324 million ace.
Given a 3-0 lead when the Yankees scored twice in the first inning and once in the second, Cole struck out three of four batters he faced late in the first before collapsing in the second.
During a long top second, Cole took the unusual step of throwing pitches past the Yankees dugout as Detroit right-hander Will Vest warmed up on the mound.
Cole allowed a first single to Miguel Cabrera, then got Spencer Torkelson on a liner in the third. Cole then made the full count of batters seventh, eighth and ninth in order – and walked all three.
“When I needed to do [a pitch], I didn’t,” Cole said. “I was trying to be too perfect.”
The third walk of the inning – following a visit from pitching coach Matt Blake – was to Willi Castro and forced into a run to make it 3-1. Robbie Grossman also got a full count before hitting a sacrifice fly to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2. Cole then ran through Austin Meadows – again on a full count – to load the bases again, causing Cole to exit the game prematurely.
He threw 46 pitches in second, ending the outing with 68.
Clarke Schmidt came in and asked Jonathan Schoop to finish the round.
Afterwards, manager Aaron Boone lamented that he hadn’t eliminated Cole sooner.
“I probably shouldn’t have left it there for as long as I did, with the weather and the pitch count,” Boone said. “He had two, and I just wanted him to get through it.”
Despite the early results, Boone still has faith in the right-hander.
“I really believe he’s about to have a great year for us and will carry us for a long time,” Boone said. “It just hasn’t caught on so far.”
That’s an understatement.
He allowed three runs in four innings against Boston on Opening Day and three runs — including two home runs to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — against Toronto in his previous outing before Tuesday’s disaster.
“I get it, the results aren’t there,” Boone said. “And we’re talking about Gerrit Cole. I feel he is much closer to popping than his lines [would indicate].”
New York Post