NEW YORK – The Yankees put nine runners on base against Gerrit Cole in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, the equivalent of New York gridlock on the basis Tuesday night. None of them scored. In every instance, Cole did not exactly do it back in 2008 when the Yankees really thought he was doing all of theirs.
Back then, the Yankees used their first-round draft pick on Cole. They were prepared to offer him more than $ 3 million. Cole and his father, Mark, collected data and created charts and graphs. They crunch the numbers of average career earnings in a high school. That's how Cole would pitch up at UCLA rather than in the Yankees' farm system.
"The way he navigated this game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, "Something very few pitchers can do. He worked his way through and around every high-leverage count. That's the most impressive thing about Gerrit Tonight. "
Yankee Stadium without allowing a run ? Only Cole, that's who. How did it explain why Cole is on the greatest winning streak in 107?
How did it explain why Cole is on the greatest winning streak in 107? years. He survived constant trouble and unfavorable counts by deploying smarts as much as he did his four pitches. Watching him pitch something like watching David Blaine work: you see it but you did not know how he did it. New York, 4-1, and keep the ALCS on the exact course that began before it began:
To the World Series, the Yankees must win a game started by Cole or Justin Verlander. They are 0-2 so far. The Astros need to win those games.
"Sometimes it comes and goes," Cole said, "and tonight. And next time out I'm pretty confident I'll be better. "
Cole has become unscathed: he threw 71 fastballs and Cole's four-seam fastball is one of the great weapons in baseball.
Cole's four-seam fastball is in baseball , It's the toughest four-seamer to hit among all MLB starters (.166), it travels the second fastest (97.1 mph) and it spins the fourth fastest (2,530 rpm). But as the Yankees have learned Tuesday night, he has two elite breaking pitches. His curveball (third fastest) and slider (10th fastest) give him three top 10 pitches when it comes to spin rate. That is absurd. Six of Cole's seven strikeouts are from his breaking pitches.
There's more. Cole is freakishly detailed about how he prepares, and he's Greg Maddux-like how to read hitters' swings in order to make in-game adjustments. For instance, he can tell when a hitter changes the timing of when he lands on his front foot to decode.
So he does something I never heard before from a pitcher: he doesn ' t need a target from the catcher to throw his fastball. Maldonado and Cole, Martin Maldonado, for instance, wants to hear the actual pitch. The target acts like a decoy.
And still more in the attributes bucket: Cole is a fearless competitor, a guy whose highest average speed occurs in the eighth inning .
In 1912, when Rube Marquard started 19-0. Marquard did so not only when the ball was dead, but also covered in tobacco juice, which Marquard would spit and rub into the ball to darken it.
Cole is 19-0 in his past 25 starts. He has not lost a game in 146 days or 169 1/3 innings-the equivalent of a full, qualified season of undefeated baseball. This is pitching-smarts, stuff and moxie-in its highest form.
Just a year ago, a former Yankee-hey did not say who-told Justin Verlander that "Our whole goal in the playoffs is to disrupt the other The Yankees can help with 50,000 rabid fans. Just ask the poor Minnesota Twins who made their maiden trips to the Yankee Stadium mound in October in the Division Series.
That is why when Verlander was asked what about Cole in Game 5, he did not talk about a particular pitch or sequence or at-bat, but the clinical grace under pressure Cole displayed.
Verlander marveled at Cole's "ability to quiet the noise and make a pitch … Here, in this environment, everything just piles on. "
Said catcher Martin Maldonado, answering the same question about the highlight of Cole's game," His ability to make a pitch when he needed to.
Cole gave no better example of combining jokes in the first inning. Cole had just gone Gleyber Torres on four pitches-after having never issued a four-pitch, first-inning walk all year.
"Gleyber-wasn't going to mess around there," Cole said in a great tribute to the New York second baseman.
Maldonado went out to the mound, using up a mound visit five batters into the game. Maldonado was thinking first-pitch curveball to the next batter, Didi Gregorius. Cole said he was thinking first-pitch curveball to Gregorius.
Never mind that Cole had to throw a curveball in the game. He just flipped in a curveball and Gregorius grounded out. Inning over.
Cole pitched most of the game under duress because of the tight score. Houston pushed the lead from 2-0 to 4-0 Adam Ottavino and Aaron Boone for a second straight game.
Boone brought in Ottavino to face George Springer for the third straight game. The first two resulted in a 103-mph bullet to centerfield and a home run, both off sliders. When Ottavino gets a full count on right-sided hitters, he throws his slider 67 percent of the time. This time, having lost faith in his best pitch, he was a fastball, and did so without conviction. He missed badly for ball four.
Boone had lefthanded groundball specialist Zack Britton was warmed up in the bullpen, but he let Ottavino pitch to Jose Altuve. Ottavino is delivering the ball to the plate. The Astros know this. Boone should know this.
In Game 2, after Springer homered off Ottavino, Michael Brantley reached a base on a third-strike wild pitch. On the very next pitch, Brantley took off for second. Gregorius.
Ottavino is a green light for the Houston running game. This time, again, the Astros ran on the very first pitch. Ottavino had pitched him away, grounded a single through the right side as Torres left to cover second base. Altuve simply had the option of swinging with Springer running.)
The decision to leave Ottavino in with a runner on first set in motion in a two-run inning. Game over. two runs, including 39-3 with the Astros.
We can keep finding ways to appreciate what Cole is doing on the mound. Twenty-five consecutive starts over five months without a defeat is just crazy. This one, with his best fastball in the New York pressure cooker, was one of his best.
"Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "I saw him pitch a game last year in Arizona. Hey punched out like 15 guys.
"He has not skipped a beat. He is terrific every start. It's just domination. "