Now, it’s just ridiculous. For the second straight night, the Yankees had a starter flirt with history. Gerrit Cole took a perfect game into the seventh inning Friday night, losing it one out shy of the eighth inning, where Jameson Taillon took his bid the night before. Cole ended up pitching seven scoreless in the Yankees’ 13-0 rout of the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
It’s been a ridiculous run for the Yankees rotation, which has posted an American League-best 2.60 ERA through the first 52 games of the season.
“Anytime you’re a close-knit group like those guys are, and you’re challenging each other and learning from one another. I think that that environment is one that you have a better chance to thrive in,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So I think that’s happening.”
And it’s leading to success for the Yankees (37-15) who have won four straight and maintained the best record in baseball. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Tigers (21-31).
It’s also given the Yankees two straight dramatic nights in a row. They are the first team in the Expansion Era to open back-to-back games with six-plus perfect innings.
A day after Taillon lost a perfect game in the eighth inning, Cole took his bid for perfection into the seventh inning. He retired 20 straight, with DJ LeMahieu making a terrific diving play to get Harold Castro out at first. The 21st batter he faced, Jonathan Schoop lined a ball into center, just past a diving LeMahieu to break up the perfect game.
“It was pretty exciting. Fans were in it. I heard them chanting my name which was pretty magical,” Cole said. “It just means so much to us when we have them behind us. It can be such a force and it almost wills us to do better.”
He finished having allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine over those seven innings. He threw 102 pitches, 73 for strikes. He got 17 swings and misses and 17 called strikes on the night, seven whiffs and 13 called strikes on the four-seam fastball.
“It’s really fun, really fun. He’s been great down the stretch, he executed pitches, mixing speeds,” catcher Jose Trevino said. “The biggest thing I mean he’s he’s prepared when he goes out there.”
It was quite a dramatic difference from the last time he saw the Tigers. On April 19 in Detroit, the Tigers chased him in the second inning after he walked five of the 11 batters he faced that day.
On a much warmer night in the Bronx, Cole kept the Yankees rotation rolling over the competition. Yankees starters have pitched at least seven innings and allowed one earned run or fewer in each of their last four games, marking just the third time since 2001 that a Yankee rotation has done that. They own a 0.62 ERA in that stretch.
“I think it certainly starts with talented guys capable of doing what they’re doing right now. But I think it’s also their preparedness, whether it’s game plan, mental, classroom, or physical preparation between their starts. Been on the same page with catchers I feel like they’re all just in a really good place,” Boone said. “But in the end, they’re all really talented in what they do. And they’re going out and executing at a really high level that’s allowing them to get deep into games routinely.”
By the time Schoop broke up the perfect game, the Yankees hitters had already decided the outcome of the game earlier.
They hammered Tigers starter Elvin Rodriguez for four homers and 10 runs. They scored seven runs in a fifth inning, which saw 11 Yankees batters come to the plate. Jose Trevino hit his fourth home run of the season in his 86th at-bat of the year, one shy of his home run total for all of last season. Aaron Judge hit his major-league leading 20th home run of the season in the third. Anthony Rizzo hit his 12th of the year and ninth at Yankee Stadium. Matt Carpenter became just the third Yankee to have four homers in his first five hits with the Yankees.