July 21, 2024

Gerrit Cole struggled in his first two games back following a lengthy rehab from an elbow injury. His third outing was a step in the right way, and the struggling Yankees hope to see further progress from their ace when he faces the visiting Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon.

Cole (1-1, 6.23 ERA) will pitch after the Yankees suffered a 5-3 setback on Friday, dropping them to 4-14 in their last 18 games. The Yankees were one strike away from winning, but their losing streak stretched to four when Masataka Yoshida hit a tying homer off Clay Holmes, and youngster Ceddanne Rafaela blasted a tiebreaking homer off Tommy Kahnle to start the tenth.

“It’s a difficult time,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said following the team’s fifth consecutive home loss. “You got to dig down and it’s a quick turnaround tomorrow, get ready to play and find out what we’re made of.”

Cole returned from three rehab appearances from his spring training injury to pitch four-plus innings, throwing 62 pitches, in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on June 19. He then threw 72 pitches against the New York Mets on June 25, allowing six runs and seven hits, including four home runs, with no strikeouts in four innings of a 9-7 loss.

Cole returned to form on Sunday, allowing only one run on three hits in five innings of an 8-1 victory over Toronto. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner also saw his pitch count increase to 90. “I thought it was a good blend of stuff and command,” Cole told me. “I pitched very well for the most part, so it was a successful day. There was a purposeful effort to fine-tune the directive, to ensure that we were giving ourselves a shot at the plate. That is part of the accumulation process.”


Cole Hard Truth: Why the Yankees' Ace is Still Baseball's Best Pitcher —  YANKEES FILES


Cole has made 17 career starts against the Red Sox, going 7-5 with a 4.68 ERA. Since joining the Yankees as a free agent after the 2019 season, the right-hander is 5-4 with a 5.16 ERA in 12 starts, and he has struggled most against Rafael Devers, who is 12-for-38 (.316) with seven homers and 17 RBIs in their previous meetings.

Following the comeback, the Red Sox improved to 13-4 and are on a five-game victory streak. Boston is also 11-4 in its last 15 meetings with the Yankees, including a 10-1 record on the road. “It’s always special to come here and win games,” Boston manager Alex Cora remarked. “We know where we are in the standings. As I mentioned last week, let’s not settle. Let’s keep pushing and see where it gets us.”

Josh Winckowski (2-1, 2.80) will make his 20th career start, and the Red Sox hope it goes as well as last weekend. He gave up four hits and 58 pitches in five innings of a 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Winckowski has five career appearances (two starts) versus the Yankees, going 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA.









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