Gerrit Cole sets a ‘benchmark’ for aces in his last Yankees outing

Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole pitched a complete shutout game in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2023.

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Yankees are facing a struggle but their ace Gerrit Cole is cruising to have Cy Young fame in 2023. His immaculate performance against the Blue Jays on Wednesday put a formidable testimony to his superhero pitching skills at Rogers Centre.

In his farewell start of the season, Gerrit Cole bolstered his case for the American League Cy Young Award with what could be considered the pinnacle of his remarkable year – a complete-game shutout, allowing just two hits.

His captain Aaron Judge paid rich accolades to Gerrit Cole’s superhero qualities that powered the Yankees to a 6-0 shutout win over the Blue Jays.

“He’s the best pitcher in the game,” the captain said about his rotation leader. “This is Gerrit Cole’s era, that’s for sure. He’s the benchmark for what an ace is supposed to be like, on and off the field.”

The game also saw Aaron Judge adding two big homes just a day before his the first anniversary of his record-equalling 61st home run at the same place. Returning to action following an unusual day off, Judge showcased his prowess with a memorable performance, launching two two-run homers, marking his 36th and 37th of the season. Remarkably, Aaron Judge achieved this feat in only 103 games, as a substantial portion of his year was spent on the injured list due to hip and toe injuries.

Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge ought to be the most formidable power-hitting and pitching duo in the upcoming playoffs. Still, instead, the Yankees teammates find themselves contemplating another season of personal excellence that ultimately yielded little team success.

Gerrit Cole’s excellent show

Yankees ace pitcher a complete shutout game in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2023.
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In an era where complete-game shutouts are a rarity, Gerrit Cole added the finishing touch to his exceptional season with one on Tuesday. Aaron Judge observed that the Yankees ace always has a look in his eye that suggests he’s ready to go. However, he noted that on the particular day in question, the ace had a different chip on his shoulder.

Prior to taking the mound on Wednesday, Gerrit Cole had seemingly secured the American League Cy Young award. However, just to leave no doubt, he delivered a compelling closing statement in his 33rd and last start of the year.

Gerrit Cole pitched his second complete-game shutout of the season, crafting a two-hit masterpiece in a 6-0 victory against the Blue Jays. In a repeat performance against the Blue Jays (87-71), the Yankees ace dominated the opposition as they pushed for a postseason berth. He further reduced his ERA to 2.63, concluding the season with 209 innings pitched – both league-leading statistics in the American League – and an impressive 222 strikeouts.

Gerrit Cole authored a complete game masterpiece, guiding the Yankees to a resounding 6-0 victory against the Blue Jays.

Gerrit Cole expressed his gratitude for his teammates, who according to him had consistently showed up in the 33 games he was able to play that year. The ace pitcher also noted that they had rallied around his Cy Young chase and believed that it motivated them to keep playing hard ever after some of their collective hopes had diminished. Gerrit Cole expressed his deep gratitude for their support.

As Gerrit Cole approached his last start of the season, he attempted to downplay discussions about winning the Cy Young award, emphasizing his desire to avoid any distractions. However, following his exceptional performance that capped off his remarkable season, he was asked if he could speak on that possibility.

“I’m on my second Labatt’s, so …” the Yankees ace responded with a smile.

An impressive season with individual distinction

Prior to this season, Gerrit Cole had amassed an impressive list of achievements during his initial decade in the majors. However, conspicuous by their absence were a Cy Young accolade and a World Series triumph. While the Yankees (81-77) haven’t provided Gerrit Cole with the necessary support to pursue a championship this October, his performance on Wednesday night all but sealed the deal for the Cy Young award.

Aaron Judge mentioned that it meant a lot for the pitcher to achieve the Cy Young award as a Yankee, especially considering all the other great Yankees who have won it. He explained that the pitcher had been a lifelong Yankee fan, looked up to the team’s legends, and had always wanted to wear the pinstripes and perform in this city, and now it was all coming true.

Gerrit Cole mentioned that he had some fun with teammates to have energy before the game. He was aware that the opposing team was determined to win that night and this shaped his resolve to do better.

“I was certainly aware that they were going to come at us tonight, needing to win,” he said. “If that created a little different look in my eye, then maybe I should do that a little more often.”

Gerrit Cole isn’t just the frontrunner; he’s practically a sure bet to become the Yankees‘ sixth Cy Young recipient. In fact, it might even be a unanimous decision due to the absence of any significant competition. Cole, who has twice settled for second place in Cy Young voting, will almost certainly secure his first Cy Young award by November, aided by his dominant September performance, which included a minuscule 1.03 ERA in five starts. This achievement will place him in an elite group of six Yankees who have received this prestigious award.

Aaron Judge described it as the cherry on top of an incredible season for Gerrit Cole. He praised his daily work and preparation behind the scenes, as well as his performance on the mound, emphasizing that he considers Gerrit Cole to be the best pitcher in the game.

In an era of baseball defined by remarkable statistics, Gerrit Cole’s season-ending figures stand out as some of the best. He wraps up the year with a stellar 15-4 record, boasting a formidable 2.63 ERA and an impressive tally of 222 strikeouts over 209 innings. Notably, the Yankees ace ranks at the top of the league in both ERA and innings pitched, secures the second spot in the wins column, and claims third place in strikeouts.

But Gerrit Cole mentioned that he wasn’t doing anything significantly different from what he knows how to do. He explained that his approach was to go out there and give the team the best chance to win on that particular day, leaving everything on the field. The starter also noted that this was his goal at the start of every season.

Manager’s admiration

Aaron Boone praised the pitcher, stating that what he witnessed was akin to a clinic in pitching. he believed that it perfectly represented the pitcher’s season. He noted that the pitcher showcased a great curveball and had a strong presence with various pitching styles and effectively incorporated a changeup and a cutter into his repertoire, and he also used sliders well. The manager mentioned that even when the opposing hitters managed to make contact on fastballs, the unpredictability in the pitcher’s deliveries caused their swings to be just slightly off the barrel.

With a flawless 1-2-3 eighth inning under his belt, Gerrit Cole’s pitch count stood at 93. Upon his return to the Yankees’ dugout, pitching coach Matt Blake sought his opinion on whether he felt prepared to take the mound for the ninth.

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Gerrit Cole responded by asking if the coach was considering him fit for that. Blake responded by expressing his belief that he was good, and Gerrit Cole humorously remarked that he had a substantial amount of rest, approximately 180 days, before his next start, and he requested to be excused or allowed to go.

The Yankees ace took the mound for the ninth inning and proceeded to secure another perfect 1-2-3 inning, marking his seventh flawless inning of the game.

The pinstripe pantheon of peerless pitching performance populated by past Yankee hurlers boasting baseball’s highest honor includes fireballing Bob “The Rope” Turley (1958), crafty southpaw Whitey Ford (1961), shutdown reliever Sparky “The Count” Lyle (1977), flamethrower “Louisiana Lightning” Ron Guidry (1978), and ageless wonder Roger “The Rocket” Clemens (2001).

Boone expressed that it was enjoyable to watch Gerrit Cole go and put an exclamation point on the Cy Young Award.

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