Gerrit Cole is the guy you can’t take your eyes off when he has the ball in his hand on the mound.
You can hear him thinking about executing a pitch, see him show disgust when he doesn’t and admire his competitiveness.
Tuesday night all of that was in play, but Cole wasn’t the main event in a 12-1 drilling of the Blue Jays by the Yankees at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
Sure, Cole allowed one run, five hits, didn’t issue a walk and fanned seven on the way to his third straight victory, but the headliner was a Yankees lineup that punished Blue Jays pitching.
“It was great, put a couple [of runs] early and Gerrit was terrific again, but it was good to see the offense really string together a ton of good at-bats,’’ Aaron Boone said of his lineup that banged out 15 hits and went 8-for-11 with runners in scoring position after going 2-for-13 in the previous two games. “A lot of guys having big nights.’’
Gio Urshela upped his hitting streak to 11 games with a 4-for-5 night that included two RBIs. Aaron Judge went 3-for-5, scored three runs and drove in one and Aaron Hicks had three RBIs and two hits. Gleyber Torres supplied three hits and drove in two runs.
The victory halted a two-game losing streak and was the 32-23 Yankees’ 11th in 13 games. They are in a battle for the best record among the second-place finishers in the three AL divisions and home field for the first round, which will be the best-of-three and opens Tuesday. The Yankees will likely either play the Twins or the White Sox.
The White Sox lead the Twins by one-half game in the AL Central. The Twins hold a 1 ½-game advantage over the Yankees for the best record among second-place clubs.
Urshela, who was on the injured list from Sept. 4-15 with a bone spur in his right elbow that may require offseason surgery, said consistency has been the engine that is driving a very productive stretch.
“Try to keep it consistent every day, that is what I try to do,’’ said Urshela, who is hitting .390 (23-for-59) in the last 16 games.
As for the elbow, obviously, it hasn’t been a problem at the plate.
“It’s good, no pain, no soreness. It feels really good,’’ said Urshela, who explained he didn’t know if surgery would eventually be required.
As for Hicks, his ability to draw walks has been the best part of his season so far, but he believes his bat is coming around as the Yankees get ready for the postseason.
“Starting to feel better,’’ said Hicks, who tripled in the first and drove in two runs in the four-run fifth. “Able to get to the fastball and hit it hard. I am seeing the ball a lot longer and feeling comfortable with that. Getting into my load earlier and trusting my hands.’’
Of course, Cole’s contributions to a victory that put the Yankees back on track can’t be discounted. He was signed for $324 million not only to pitch the Yankees to World Series titles but for games like Tuesday night, when losing streaks, even mini ones, needed to be stopped.
He did exactly that. However, for the rare night Cole wasn’t the headliner, which made his job a lot easier.
Cole will open the playoffs for the Yankees on Tuesday and will gladly stay in the shadows if the lineup unloads like it did against the Blue Jays.