Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had it all working on Thursday night in Washington.
Newly-minted Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, reasonably jittered entering his first Opening Day with “New York” across his chest, didn’t have his particularly good command on Thursday night in Washington.
It didn’t appear to matter.
After spending the better part of Summer Camp making his own teammates look foolish, while reserving his arsenal and opting not to compete in exhibitions, Cole toed the rubber in the road grays for the first time ever — and he brought about half of the total package along with him.
Stuff? Yup. Command? Not entirely. Adam Eaton battled him in the first inning and got a fastball he could handle, cutting a 2-0 lead in half. But from thereon out, Cole was able to stomp around the mound, wipe his brow, and begin to deliver under duress.
By the fifth inning, he was starting to hit the corners again. As the threat of rain lingered over his shoulder, Cole refused to fold, finding the black as the dark crept in.
That’s…that’s the good stuff.
The first four innings were a battle, with Cole yanking fastballs high repeatedly, though his breaker was often in and around the zone. The ball had Cole’s trademark spin rate and dip — it just didn’t quite find all the right spots.
But that’s why Cole is the richest ace in the history of the game. Even against the reigning World Champions, that much didn’t matter. Outside of Eaton, he was largely able to overpower the competition, daring the Nats to hit his fastball, and mostly watching the ball nestle in the glove of Aaron Judge in right field.
Angel Hernandez gave both Cole and Max Scherzer a good deal of plate, but even a blindfolded Jim Joyce could’ve called this sword properly.
Want to put Cole’s greatness further in perspective? The man battled through the fourth, retiring the side on fly balls and a liner to Tyler Wade. That was the first inning he’d spun since last August that DIDN’T feature a strikeout of any kind.
Nothing came in its conventional form, and the whole effort was cut short by a torrential downpour and a lightning strike just behind Rob Manfred’s head.
But what in 2020 has come conventionally? Cole threw a one-hitter on stuff alone, and Aaron Boone was probably saved a great temptation when the rain made his hook decision for him.
Save the bullets; while nothing was picture perfect, they’re already in midseason form.