For Gerrit Cole, the game itself served as a stress reliever of sorts.
For his teammates? That role was played by Cole himself.
If the Yankees ace has committed very few missteps since putting on the pinstripes, Wednesday night at Tropicana Field might have been his best step yet. With his club fighting the oddest COVID-19 outbreak his sport has experienced, Cole shoved his way to a dominant, 1-0 victory over the Rays, extending the Yankees’ winning streak to four games and ending a streak of series losses to Tampa Bay, including last year’s American League Division Series, at seven.
Over eight brilliant innings, Cole allowed just four hits, none in four shots with runners in scoring position, while walking none and striking out 12. He has registered an amazing 56 Ks since his last walk, a free pass to the Blue Jays’ Yuli Gurriel Jr. on April 12.
“He is an absolute bulldog,” Cole’s manager Aaron Boone said. “I think he lives for pitching when it’s tough in the biggest of games, and obviously in a 1-0 game, we needed all of it.”
“That’s a really nice compliment,” replied Cole, who lowered his ERA to a ridiculous 1.37. “I certainly enjoy playing meaningful games. There was a lot going on today, and it was a bit challenging to get focused for the game. But once you’re there, it’s kind of business as usual.”