DETROIT – The stuff is quality, they say.
It’s good stuff.
It’s Gerrit Cole stuff – the stuff that made half the Yankees executive staff fly to Southern California with a $ 324 million contract.
“The stuff’s there, really, with every pitch,” manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday night, following the shortest of Cole’s 45 career Yankees starts.
After a solid first inning, Cole’s command went missing at every critical pitch – walking four batters in the second inning, all on full counts.
If it weren’t for Clarke Schmidt’s rescue work Tuesday, Cole’s ERA would be further north of 6.35 as he moves towards his fourth start of the year.
“This game is obviously pretty disappointing,” Cole said after the Yankees somehow came away with a 4-2 win against the Detroit Tigers.
Quick hook? Not quite:
A dropped Josh Donaldson pop-up scored two runs, instead of ending the first inning – part of the luck (along with clutch relief) necessary to keep the Yanks (6-5) from falling under .500.
And yes, it was a bitterly cold night at Comerica Park, but none of the other 13 guys who took the mound had a worse time than the Yanks’ No. 1 starter.
Stunningly, Cole used 68 pitches just to get five outs (in a game that lasted nearly four hours).
“I probably shouldn’t have left him out there as long as I did, ” Boone said after watching Cole walk the bottom of Detroit’s order, forcing in a run.
Cole faced two more batters (sac fly, career-high fifth walk) before Schmidt entered and maintained a 3-2 lead, with 3.1 scoreless innings.
“Trying to be too perfect ” in certain spots was Cole’s main takeaway.
“I still believe in myself, I still felt I had enough in there to get the job done,” Cole said. “But I would say too fast to the plate in some instances.”
Why it unraveled:
Entering Tuesday, Cole made it a point to spot corner fastballs and pitch more ahead in the count.
Yet, “when push came to shove, just did not make the pitch,” said Cole, whose three strikeouts came during a four-batter first inning.
Conditions were not ideal; it was 43 degrees at first pitch with a biting 19-mph wind.
Gripping the baseball would be an issue, and Cole was at the center of that debate last season, when MLB started enforcing its ban on sticky substances.
Earning his first big-league win Tuesday, Schmidt said he had difficulty commanding his fastball early, but had both of his breaking pitches working well.
Such conditions are always going to throw an extra spotlight on Cole, who had a 2.31 ERA in 14 starts last year before the sticky stuff crackdown and a 4.12 ERA since.
“It was certainly cold and a long first inning, long second inning,” Cole said. “But nothing I haven’t dealt with in my career.”
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Cole was clearly annoyed during his Opening Day start, when the first four Red Sox reached base – opening a 3-0 lead – after he was made to wait four minutes from the scheduled first-pitch time.
Cole appeared on the sidelines Tuesday, throwing during a second inning injury delay, after Tigers reliever Rony Garcia cracked a fingernail.
It did not help.
In his shortest outing since going two innings in last year AL Wild Card Game loss at Fenway Park, Cole threw 46 pitches in the second inning.
Cole started the inning with a 3-0 lead. At least, he did not give up a home run, just a sharp single to Miguel Cabrera – now four shy of 3,000 for his career.
“The last game, Vlad had a great night, ” Cole said of Vladimir Guerrero’s three homers, two against Cole, in a Toronto victory.
Before that, Cole mentioned Opening Day as “kind of uncharted territory ” for a lot of pitchers” coming off that (shortened) spring training. ”
Well, it did not seem to bother older war horses like Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw.
“I really believe he’s poised for a big year for us,” Boone said, “because of Cole’s stuff.
Cole’s next start comes Sunday in the Bronx, where an anxious crowd is paying to see more substance than stuff.
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Gerrit Cole pulled by New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers: