Gerrit Cole passes first test but finds rhythm only in the third

New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Pamela Smith
Michael Bennington
Thursday June 20, 2024

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The eagerly anticipated debut of Gerrit Cole finally came on Wednesday. Though it ended in a 6-7 10th-inning loss for the Yankees, fans got a tantalizing preview of what October could hold if the Yankees’ ace can stay healthy and near his Cy Young form.

His 2024 debut was greeted with cheers and high-fives in the dugout. But Yankees manager Aaron Boone pulled him out after 62 pitches to avoid any fatigue.

Gerrit Cole found his rhythm in the third inning, striking out the side. He fanned Jorge Mateo with a 92 mph cutter, caught Adley Rutschman looking on a 3-2 knuckle curve, and dismissed Ryan Mountcastle with a slider.

By the fourth inning, reliever Ron Marinaccio was warming up, but Gerrit Cole finished strong, striking out Anthony Santander with a 95 mph fastball and Colton Cowser with a 96 mph heater. Teammate Alex Verdugo remarked, “He’s one of those guys that every time he starts it’s must-see TV.”

Gerrit Cole noted that his command was solid for most of the outing, making crucial pitches when necessary. “Good command for the most part,” he said. “Made some good pitches when we needed to make some good pitches.”

Gerrit Cole made his 2024 season debut against the Orioles.

However, his night ended with a leadoff single by Cedric Mullins in the fifth inning, marking the first hit since a shaky start. The ace’s final line included one walk and five strikeouts. He was in line for the win until reliever Ron Marinaccio allowed a two-run homer to Ramon Urias.

A big day for Gerrit Cole amid Yankees’ loss

Despite Gerrit Cole’s impressive return, the Yankees lost 7-6 to the Orioles in 10 innings, with closer Clay Holmes surrendering two runs in the extra frame. Aaron Judge, sidelined with a hand injury, could only watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s three-run homer in the seventh inning cut the deficit to 5-4, and Alex Verdugo made a stunning catch to rob Anthony Santander of a bases-loaded hit in the ninth, preserving the 5-4 score. Stanton later singled in Anthony Volpe in the ninth to tie the game at 5-5 against Craig Kimbrel.

The dramatic game also saw two Orioles hit by pitches following the incident with Judge’s hand. Despite the loss, Gerrit Cole’s outing provided a bright spot for the Yankees, highlighting his potential to deliver dominant performances as they eye the postseason.

Gerrit Cole’s eagerly anticipated season debut brought a surge of excitement, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone hoped the ace could harness the inevitable adrenaline. Despite early challenges, Boone saw improvement in Gerrit Cole’s performance as the game progressed.

The ace himself reflected on the emotional significance of his return after a lengthy recovery, noting that accurate pitch location helped steady his nerves.

Gerrit Cole made his 2024 season debut against the Orioles.

“It was kind of a special game for me,” Gerrit Cole said. “It’s just been a long few months and a lot of emotions. I wasn’t too sure how I was gonna feel out there. Locating the ball always quells the nerves a little bit.”

The Yankees ace noted he induced swings and misses with all his pitch types.

Gerrit Cole’s performance underscored his status as a former Cy Young winner and a pivotal player in the Yankees’ pursuit of postseason success, showing that when healthy, he remains a dominant force on the mound.

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