PITTSBURGH — Gerrit Cole’s campaign for the American League Cy Young Award seemed to be hitting a snag on Friday night at PNC Park. But facing the organization with which he began his career, Cole got stronger as the game went on — and so did the Yankees’ offense.
Cole bore down to go five innings and keep the Yanks within striking distance, and strike they did in the ninth. After a bases-loaded walk by Estevan Florial pulled them within a run, Anthony Volpe chopped a ball to short, and a throwing error sent home the winning runs in a 7-5 victory.
Cole walked the first two batters of the game on 14 pitches, then afforded a single to Ke’Bryan Hayes to load the bases with no outs. The righty got into the zone against the next two batters to induce two flyouts, including a sac fly, before walking Endy Rodríguez on six pitches. With the bases loaded a second time, former Yankee Miguel Andujar struck the first pitch he saw hard to center field, but not far enough for a slam as Florial tracked it down.
The Pirates produced three singles in the second inning, but it was clear Cole’s command was cleaning up. After laboring for 51 pitches in the first two innings, he completed his final three innings on 42 pitches, while striking out three and allowing just two hits. On a night it seemed like his ERA might take a hit, it jumped only from 2.79 to 2.81.
Aaron Judge gave the Yankees a go-ahead RBI with a single in the sixth, but the Pirates tied the game on a scary line drive off Anthony Misiewicz’s head in the bottom of the inning, then added on. But the Yanks struck for four in the ninth to have the final say.