Yankees bullpen does the rescue act after Cole’s worst outing

Yankees' pitcher Michael King hugs the catcher after his save against the Rangers on June 25, 2023, Yankee Stadium.

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In their 5-3 comeback victory over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees’ bullpen played a crucial role in turning the game in their favor after starting pitcher Gerrit Cole had his worst performance of the season.

During the matchup, Nathan Eovaldi emerged as the winner in the battle of top pitchers, outperforming Cole. However, it was the New York Yankees’ bullpen that ultimately excelled compared to their Texas counterparts. They hold the Rangers’ offense and ultimately forced a win on them.

A difficult game for the Yankees ace

Cole faced a challenging outing against the Rangers on Sunday, giving up three runs on nine hits and one walk in 4.2 innings. Although he struck out seven batters, it was evident that the Yankees ace was not at his best as he encountered difficulties throughout the game. This marked the first time this season that he failed to complete the fifth inning for the Yankees.

Prior to this outing, Cole had been performing exceptionally well in June, boasting a 1.78 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and an impressive 27:4 K: BB ratio across his first four starts of the month, spanning 25.1 innings. Hence, his subpar performance on Sunday can be considered an exception rather than the norm. Cole will have the opportunity to bounce back in his next start, which is currently scheduled for a three-game weekend series in St. Louis.

The Yankees bullpen won the game

Despite Cole’s struggles, the Yankees bullpen stepped up to the challenge. They replaced Cole before the fifth inning concluded, and reliever Jimmy Cordero took over the mound. He successfully induced a weak groundout from Heim, ending the inning.

With Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta likely unavailable due to their previous day’s workload, Ron Marinaccio was called upon to pitch in the eighth inning with the Yankees trailing. Despite pitching on consecutive days, Marinaccio delivered a scoreless eighth inning, showcasing his resilience.

In the ninth inning, Michael King, who had encountered difficulties in his recent outings, managed to handle the Rangers’ most dangerous hitters and only allowed a two-out single to Nathaniel Lowe.

Following a strong performance by the bullpen, the Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, granting King the opportunity to earn a save. This marked his fifth save of the year, although it was his first save opportunity since June 13. Considering the presence of Holmes, Peralta, and Marinaccio as healthy bullpen options, it is unlikely that King will have many more opportunities for saves in the near future.

Manager Aaron Boone commended King for his performance, acknowledging that he came through when it mattered despite some previous struggles. King’s save in Sunday’s game contributed to his overall success in the season.

Furthermore, reports indicate that the Yankees’ bullpen currently boasts the best ERA in the major leagues, standing at an impressive 2.85.

The Rangers had a chance to secure a series win in the Bronx for the first time since 2017 as they entered the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead. However, the Yankees staged a comeback, capitalizing on the struggles of the Rangers’ bullpen. The Yankees’ offense had a quiet period between the second and eighth innings, but they managed to stay in the game thanks to the exceptional performance of their bullpen.

Boone praised the collective effort of the bullpen, acknowledging that nearly everyone had a part to play in the team’s success. Despite being fatigued and missing key pitchers such as Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Tommy Kahnle, the bullpen stepped up and made significant contributions. 

The Yankees manager also acknowledged the contributions of the starting pitchers, highlighting the crucial role that both the starters and the bullpen played in the team’s performance.

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