By Tim Kabel
April 17, 2023
This was a terrific win for the Yankees. After losing the first two games of the series against the Twins, they came back to split it. Gerrit Cole was completely dominant, pitching a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. They had just enough offense to win the game. It was a crisp, well-played game that was a pleasure to watch. The Yankees are now 10-6 for the season, and remain in second place, tied with the Blue Jays, and trailing the Rays. They are in a good position. They just need to be consistent.
Quick Stats -
Before the game, the Yankees placed Giancarlo Stanton on the IL. He has been on the IL approximately 40% of the time he has been with the Yankees.
Gerrit Cole passed Whitey Ford for 97th place on the career strikeout list. He is closing in on 2,000 strikeouts.
This was the first time that Anthony Volpe was the leadoff hitter with DJ LeMahieu in the lineup. Hopefully, this will become a regular occurrence.
Gerrit Cole tied Ron Guidry for the most games with 10 or more strikeouts in Yankees' history with 23.
Big Story -
The Yankees are in a good place. Tampa Bay had an amazing start to the season but, the Yankees have been solid and if they play at their current pace, they will have 100 wins for the season. What they need to do is avoid the streakiness that they have been prone to over the last few years. That will be easier once Luis Severino and Carlos Rodon rejoin the team. Then, when Jonathan Loaisiga, Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle return to the bullpen, the team will be a lot stronger.
Losing Giancarlo Stanton is a major blow. He was off to the best start of his career. Hopefully, he will not be out for a long time. However, his fragility cannot be overestimated. As noted above, he has missed close to 40% of the Yankees games since he has been on the team. I know many people feel he should be in the outfield more often but, that would simply increase the likelihood of him being hurt. Ideally, he will return quickly and resume contributing at the same pace as he was.
If the Yankees are going to have a special season, they need to overcome injuries and other setbacks and win consistently. They have upcoming series with the Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, and Rangers. They need to maintain their winning ways in all those series and start to build something.
Player of the Game -
Gerrit Cole had a dominant performance, only giving up two hits in a complete-game shutout. His record is now 4-0.
Notable Performance -
DJ LeMahieu drove in both Yankees' runs and had two hits in four at bats.
Better to Forget -
Aaron Hicks was 0-3 and is now batting .136 for the season, with three singles and one RBI. In the words of Gomer Pyle, “surprise, surprise, surprise.”
My Take -
I know it's early, but Gerrit Cole seems different this season. He has always had tremendous talent. That has never been the issue. It's just that this year, he seems much more unflappable. Last year, he was rattled easily. That does not seem to be the case this season.
In the past, particularly last year, Cole would unravel rather easily. If something went wrong; if a player made an error behind him; if the breeze was blowing in the wrong direction; if someone sneezed in the crowd, he would let it get to him and give up several runs
immediately. Right now, he is not doing that. He is much more composed and demonstrates mental toughness.
Cole has always been a solid pitcher. That is why the Yankees signed him to that huge contract. This season, he looks as if he's putting everything together and is ready to be one of the best pitchers in the league. That is what the Yankees need.
If Cole continues to pitch this way throughout the season, when he is combined with Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon, and Luis Severino, the Yankees will have a tremendous starting rotation. We hope it is one that will take them far in the playoffs and possibly win the World Series.
Cole is the key to this. He cannot revert to the form he demonstrated last year. He cannot get flustered if the pregame ceremonies take too long or if one of his players drops a ball. He has to bear down and be consistent and competitive all year long. It was great to see him share a somewhat lighthearted moment with his catcher, Jose Trevino, during the game. This was something we did not see last year. It doesn't mean that he is not concentrating. It doesn't mean that he isn't taking the game seriously. It simply means that he is confident in his abilities and is not allowing little things to bother him. As the old saying goes, “don't sweat the small stuff.” If Cole can stick to that, he and the Yankees should have a tremendous season.
Next Up -
On Tuesday, the Yankees open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at 7:05 PM at Yankee Stadium. Clarke Schmidt (0-0, 8.44 ERA) will face the Angels' Jose Suarez (0-1, 10.80 ERA).