Yankees cruise to Game 1 win after Gerrit Cole escapes jam

NEW YORK — Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole could have melted down. In the third inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday, Cole gave up a solo home run against Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan – who hit six in the regular season – before loading the bases by hitting shortstop Amed Rosario with one hit pitch, handing a double to slugger Jose Ramirez and allowing first baseman Josh Naylor to take first place after picking a fielder with just one out in the inning.

The inning provided all the ingredients for the game to spiral out of control very quickly. When the Yankees were on a run, Cole came to a fork in the road. Cleveland could put the game out of reach with a handful of swings and knock the Yankees ace out of play in his first playoff start in the Bronx, or he could help New York secure the ALDS’ first game.

Standing on the mound with bases juiced, Cole took a step back and tried to imagine the situations during the season when runners hit base. He tried to base himself on how he reacted in those situations while emptying his head from the high stakes of playoff baseball.

“I prepared myself for the traffic. I’ve certainly had quite a bit of that this year, too much experience with traffic,” said Cole. “You’re doing what you normally do. We were really clear about what pitches we wanted to make in those situations.”

Those pitches were the curveball and the slider as Cole made Oscar Gonzalez become a force on an 88.4-mile slider before making Andres Gimenez on a nasty 88.4-mile slider all in one Slamming an at-bat that contained only a three-slider fastball and two curveballs. The moment proved crucial in keeping the Cleveland offense in check as New York powered to a 4-1 win.

“He executed, and that could be the hit of the game right there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He was in trouble there and kept making pitches.”

The Yankees’ offense slowly began to gain ground in the following innings. Outfielder Harrison Bader hit a solo home run for a 1-1 tie in the final third before catcher Jose Trevino hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a sacrificial fly for the go-ahead in the fifth shortstop. First baseman Anthony Rizzo added some cushion in the sixth inning with a two-run homer and scored on Aaron Judge.

But it all ties into Cole getting out of the jam in the third inning.

“It’s the kind of stuff that fuels offense,” Bader said. “They hate putting more pressure on initial pitching, but that’s the reality and that’s why these guys get paid the way they do because of the energy and the ability to lock in and make big pitches in big sequences , which is exactly what he did.”

The Guardians made Cole work hard in the first three innings, forcing the Yankees ace to throw 62 pitches through three innings. But getting out of the bases-loaded jam in the third inning helped Cole settle down as he threw just eight pitches in the fourth, 13 in the fifth, 13 in the sixth and four more in the seventh, recording an out and allowing a single to Myles Straw before Boone pulled the plug on the right-handers night out.

Throughout the game, Cole shuffled his repertoire to throw the Guardians off balance, throwing 27.5% fastballs, 27.9% sinkers, 12.6% cutters, 13% sliders, and 13.4% change-ups .

“He can have overwhelming things,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona. “He starts accelerating you and then he spins it. It can get tough.”

Cole exited the game in the seventh inning to a sold-out crowd of 47,807 at Yankee Stadium, who waved to the fans. Gazing out at the crowd before descending the shelter steps, Cole took a moment to take it all in.

A childhood Yankees fan growing up in Southern California, Cole dreamed of moments like Tuesday night, which was also his father Mark’s birthday.

“It was very special to me,” said Cole before pausing to capture his emotion. “It was very special. The game isn’t over yet, traffic remains. It’s not the most comfortable time to acknowledge the crowd but I certainly felt it and appreciate it. I thought they were up tonight every seat and what a wonderful experience.” have them behind us.”

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34779417/yankees-cruise-game-1-win-gerrit-cole-escapes-jam Yankees cruise to Game 1 win after Gerrit Cole escapes jam

Emma Bowman

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