The remarkable thing is that Gerrit Cole was only part of the choir on Tuesday evening. The Yankees welcomed the American League playoffs with a haymaker who not only flattened the Cleveland Indians 12-3, but surely must have been heard in other notable areas such as St. Petersburg, Florida and Houston. Maybe even Los Angeles.
Everyone was part of the fun. Two batters in the Yankees were 2-0 up when Aaron Judge made a baseball disappear on Cleveland night. Brett Gardner turned the clock back about five years. Shane Bieber, the winner of Cy Young, looked like a frightened deer wandering the Cross Bronx Expressway. Even when there weren’t any fans in Progressive Field, you could hear a million Ohioans getting a head start on their complaints of waiting until the next year.
And on the side, Gerrit Cole threw seven innings and allowed two runs and six hits, he knocked out 1
(SPOILER ALERT: Seaver and the Mets lost this game 2-1.)
Cole wasn’t going to lose that. The Yankees wouldn’t let him, but even if they didn’t get the score, Cole was all he should ever be: a monster who gave me the ball, a Brute from Game 1. Even after the Indians started, better against him swinging a 3-0 deficit to 3-1 and a 5-1 hole to 5-2, there was never a moment when Cole was out of control.
“Letting Gerrit throw the ball the way he did it,” said manager Aaron Boone, “that was so great.”
And he was tall, larger than life, right after the jump, he knocked Francisco Lindor and Cesar Hernandez down and then persuaded a weak pop-up from Jose Ramirez, the best hitter of the Indians. When this ball floated high above the infield, Cole didn’t even wait for it to begin his descent and immediately trudged off the field. He knows the area. He knew he was locked up.
“I thought he looked really hot,” said Boone. “He had mixed all four pitches and he was leaning on all of them.”
In fact, he had more than that. Cole could spend part of the day with his wife Amy and their 3 month old son Caden – at least between naps – and the Coles were part of a throaty Yankees family contingent in Progressive.
Young Caden will not remember the night except for the pictures and videos his mother kept on her cell phone, but it meant everything to his father.
“Jesus Christ,” said Cole, “as a family, it was the first time we went to the ballpark as a family, and I’ll always remember that.”
“I never thought his first game would be in Cleveland,” he said, but what about 2020 if you follow a script?
Actually, Cole’s performance. This, of course, is why the Yankees endorsed the Brinks and anointed him their ace. Every part of it hinted at several Game 1s over the next few years, starting with this one. Bieber may have surpassed him with 60 games in the regular season.
But when the lights were on at Progressive Field and the plug went into the wall to start those playoffs for 2020, it was Cole who played the part of the stopper. Bieber will have many mornings to look forward to, but the Yankees are, as always, in on. Cole suits them. You suit him. Tuesday night looked like a happier marriage than Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
“We had to set a tone for the show,” said Cole. “I am obviously very grateful and humble to take the ball and to be in this position to be able to deliver felt good, my son who was here felt pretty good too. It was definitely a special night. There are many more baseball games to be won this year, especially. We will celebrate the good things and strive for them [Wednesday]. ”
Assuming everything goes well from here and that offensive attack wasn’t a Come On Eileen-style one-hit wonder, Cole will have more Games 1 ahead of him, other nights Cole will be asked to take the ball . And those nights the Yankees will be grateful for that.