CLEVELAND — Signed by the New York Yankees Gerrit Cole For games like this.
On the brink of the Yankees’ 99-win season, Cole pitched seven brilliant innings to lead New York to a 4-2 victory over the upstart Cleveland Guardians on Sunday as the Bombers knotted the American League Division Series at two games apiece.
Starting for the 16th time in his postseason career, Kohli gave the Yankees just what they needed, not only preventing elimination, but also saving more wear and tear on an injury-depleted bullpen.
“He just kept making pitches all night,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought he was really in command of the moment and it was a big start for us and for him. And getting us deep into the game was really good for us.”
Cleveland allowed the leadoff hitter to score through the first four innings, but each time it looked like he might be teetering on the edge of trouble, he dialed it back and escaped without any damage on the scoreboard. He was able to pull off that trick while keeping his pitch count in check so he could work deep.
“For most of the night, to have somebody around, and overall, things were pretty good,” Cole said. “But we threw a lot of good pitches and mixed it up well. Enough to get away with a couple of mistakes.”
One of those mistakes came in the fourth inning, when the Guardians designated hitter Josh Naylor Ringing led off with a line-drive homer to right center. As he rounded the bases, Naylor waved his arms back and forth in an exaggerated celebratory gesture.
If the intent was to get Kohli out, it didn’t work — and couldn’t have worked because Kohli said he didn’t know about Naylor’s antics until after the game.
“Whatever,” Cole said. “That’s beautiful. I didn’t see it at the time, and it wouldn’t have bothered me at the time. It’s funny.”
Cole was unhittable in Game 4 as he held Cleveland to two runs over seven innings, striking out eight and, above all, throwing 110 pitches.
The last of those pitches hit the Guardians pinch hitter at 98 mph. Will Brennan. As he followed Matt, Cole pumped his arms and yelled, the intensity on his face indicating a man who knew he had done the job he was asked to do.
He had emptied the tank for his team.
“I pitch every time,” Cole said.
A postseason hit by a hero that turned out to be a major blow to the Yankees’ offense Harrison BaderCleveland hit a two-run homer off the starter Quarter quantile It gave New York a 3-0 lead early in the second.
Bader, acquired at the trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals, was on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. By the time he went back and started his Yankees career, the season was winding down and he played in just 14 games for New York during the regular season, hitting .217 with no homers.
He is making up for lost time. Bader’s homer on Sunday was his third of the postseason. Bader, who grew up a Yankees fan, joined a roster. In the franchise’s storied history, the only other Yankees center fielders to homer at least three times in a season are Bernie Williams (three times) and Mickey Mantle (twice).
“I’m grateful and fortunate for this opportunity,” Bader said. “Every day when I wake up, it feels good to be a Yankee. I carry that on the field, I carry that in my preparation.”
Boone was able to use the closer as Cole reduced the New York bullpen’s workload to six batters Clay Homes Eighth and three outs to left Wanda Peralta Finish it in the ninth. The two hurlers faced the wing of the Guardians order and they were well matched as Boon had scripted it.
“It lined up really well for us tonight,” Boone said. “You start looking back and it’s like, man, every little out that makes somebody move forward a little bit better is always big.”
With Holmes’ presence or absence becoming a hot topic in the series, Boone said before Sunday’s game that if he responds well in the first game, he could be back in back-to-back games. It will certainly be a topic to find out during Boone’s pregame news conference before Game 5 at Yankee Stadium on Monday.
Peralta, meanwhile, singled Cleveland through seven pitches in the top of the ninth. While the veteran left-hander made three appearances in three days, Boone said the efficiency of the outing made Peralta available for the series finale.
“There’s definitely some adrenaline and stuff added when you step into Yankee Stadium,” Taillon said. “I keep my day as normal as possible.”
While the Yankees’ beleaguered bullpen appears to be in good shape for the Finals, so will Cleveland’s bullpen after manager Terry Francona avoided using any of his big three relievers. Emmanuel class, James Karinchak And Trevor Stephen — during two games in Cleveland.
In other words, it’s all hands on deck as the $68 million defenseman tries to knock off the $246 million Yankees.
“If you had told me in March that we’d be signed to play Game 5 in New York, to go to the ALCS,” Francona said, “I would have jacked to New York. I mean, it’s … I’m excited.”
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