In the end, the joke is actually on Alex Verdugo. He’s an average Major League Baseball player on a below-average team that’s set to finish under .500 and miss the playoffs. But the New York Yankees don’t need to expose themselves to the point where the young Red Sox slugger has any right to direct a disparaging comment their way.
On Friday night in what ended up being a 5-4 Yankees victory, Verdugo belted a game-tying three-run homer off Gerrit Cole in the sixth inning. Cole strikes again; can’t stop giving up home runs to the Red Sox and can’t stop falling apart in big situations against them (or anyone, really).
Cole struck again again, too, when he lost his cool on the umpires for feeling like he was being squeezed. Was home plate umpire Brian Knight a bit inconsistent on the night? Sure. But in this particular case, Knight wasn’t wrong.
Cole’s 1-2 offering to Verdugo was a call that could’ve gone either way, but this one was outside of everyone’s favorite strike-zone box. He just missed the low outside corner. Then, two pitches later, Verdugo belted a 100 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate into the Yankees’ bullpen. Tie game, 4-4.
After the inning concluded, Cole went off on Knight and ended up getting ejected, making quite the scene. Passion? Sure, we’ll get on board with that … somewhat. But this outburst just seemed to be Cole’s frustration boiling over because he can never put the Red Sox down. He has a 5.59 ERA against Boston in 2022 (in addition to terrible career numbers) and the Sox have belted nine of the 31 homers off the right-hander this year (which is the second-worst mark in all of baseball).
So you can imagine why Verdugo decided to go at Cole in the postgame. How could he not continue making a mockery of the Yankees pitcher?
Red Sox slugger Alex Verdugo responded to Yankees’ Gerrit Cole’s outburst
"“It wasn’t even close. He can complain all he wants,” Verdugo said via Ian Browne of MLB.com. “The goal of this game is to throw it over the white plate. He gets a lot of pitches out of the zone and, yeah, he wanted it. Big pitch, big situation, he wanted it, but the umpire got that call right.”"
Ha, OK Alex. Now we’ll toss this back on you for a moment. The pitch was very close. In fact, it was as much of a 50/50 call as could be. Let’s not waste kerosene by throwing it on an already raging fire. We’d also love to see the evidence of Cole getting “a lot of pitches out of the zone.” For as much as Cole came off as childish, Verdugo did as a weasel, too.
Nonetheless, had Cole not went nuclear on the ump, Verdugo wouldn’t have had anything to say about the “missed call” in the pitcher’s eyes. It would’ve just been a game-tying home run that ended up being for naught because the Yankees won anyway since the Red Sox are a bad team.
But this is exactly why fans have been frustrated with Cole since he’s joined the Yankees. Most of his “big” outings aren’t “enough,” and then he has so many moments that further leave him/the team susceptible to layup jokes/criticism from opposing fans.
This year alone for Cole, there’s the Billy Crystal incident on Opening Day, unraveling against the Rays after a borderline call that didn’t go his way against Ji-Man Choi, falling apart against the Angels due to a fan delaying the game, and flipping out in the dugout after blowing it against the bottom of the Blue Jays lineup in another loss. That’s far too many incidents to birth largely unneeded drama that only add insult to injury.
Some fans seem to be comparing Cole’s feud with the ump on Friday night to CC Sabathia getting ejected for the very same infraction back in 2015. The only difference is that’s who CC was as a player. At that point, he had also won a World Series and all but officially made his case for the Hall of Fame.
As for Cole, he still has a long way to go in terms of proving himself as a winner and imposing force that nobody’s willing to mess with. Up until this point, it’s all just seemed childish, misplaced and full of a lack of accountability.