Gerrit Cole earned his Yankees fan bona fides in 2001. Did he just prove his pinstriped mettle on Sept. 11?

Sure, sure, true Yankees moments, especially for a player who received a $324 million commitment, must come in October. Nevertheless, this one felt quite big for the Yankees’ first-year ace, and profound too.

In throwing a two-hit shutout Friday afternoon in The Bronx, mowing down the Orioles, 6-0, to open a doubleheader sweep — Masahiro Tanaka (five innings, one run) prevailed in the nightcap, 10-1 — Cole halted a personal three-start losing streak and kicked off this surprisingly critical weekend on a great note, striking out nine while walking one and permitting just a pair of singles; his no-hitter ended with two outs in the fifth. The Yankees (24-21) now have put 3 ½ games between themselves and the O’s and the Tigers (20-24) in the race for the American League’s final postseason spot, and thanks to a Mets rout of the Blue Jays in Buffalo, they trail second-place Toronto (24-20) by just half a game in the AL East.

As they move further away from crisis mode, the Yankees can start envisioning a playoff rotation headed by Cole pitching as he did Friday.