When last seen on the mound, Gerrit Cole was superb in a must-win game to push momentum back in the Yankees’ favor.
His team will take more of that Saturday from the ace right-hander, knowing full well that if they don’t beat the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS in The Bronx, their World Series dreams will be all but dead.
You are reading: Gerrit Cole again tasked with saving Yankees’ season
It’s Cole or a three-nothing hole.
Which might as well equate to the pressure Cole faced in Cleveland last Sunday, when a loss would have ended the Yankees’ season in Game 4 of the ALDS.
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Cole delivered by allowing two earned runs on six hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. The Yankees returned home after that game, and following a rainout, won Game 5 in front of their own fans.
“I got showered with beer and hit in the head with french fries as we got the last out,” Cole said. “There’s a part of every baseball player that really enjoys making the fan base happy, just enjoys making the people in the ballpark happy, or vice-versa, if you’re in an opposing team’s ballpark. So any time that we can go back there, we worked really hard to be in this position.”
For Cole, it’s a first opportunity to face his former team in the postseason. Cole landed with the Yankees on a nine-year contract worth $324 million after he helped the Astros beat them in the 2019 ALCS. In that series, Cole pitched seven shutout innings in a Game 3 victory.
Now he’s up against Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and the gang.
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“Probably one characteristic that connects all the dots is the way that they play together,” Cole said. “So whatever it is in any given game, they’re going to try to gang tackle you, really. And they play until the whistle blows, like they say in the NFL. It’s just a very team-oriented mentality.
“I find that that’s really a commonality amongst any good teams or any teams that are getting this deep in the postseason. But certainly it’s just at another level of familiarity with them, with the type of veterans and the type of players that they have had in all these big situations over all the years.”
If the Yankees are going to make it a series, their chance lies in Cole and scheduled Game 4 starter Nestor Cortes, who helped deliver the knockout punch against the Guardians on Tuesday.
“Any time you’re facing Cole, number one, and nasty Nestor … you have got to bring your ‘A’ game,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.