At the tail end of Yankees ace Gerrit Cole's dominant outing on Tuesday night in the Bronx, things got a little wonky, with seemingly no warning.
Fans of this team, who've been conditioned to things going off the rails lately, couldn't have felt great about Cole poking the Mariners' bear with a two-run lead, then exiting the game to hand things over to the bullpen. But now, with the benefit of hindsight and knowing the M's did not wake up before the end of the game Tuesday, it feels much safer to analyze all this very good fun in good fun.
With two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, Mariners agitator Jose Caballero stepped out of the box prior to a 0-1 pitch, eliciting an obvious Cole sigh and spin around the mound. Caballero was within baseball's newfangled rules, but he was certainly stretching the limits, taking laps around the box and flipping his bat in his hand until the moment he was legally required to stare back at Cole. That led to the 0-2 pitch being wasted significantly outside the zone ... 50 feet above Caballero's head.
Eventually, after two more waste pitches with a bit less meaning, Cole fired a fastball past Caballero, then stared him down. Before he reached the dugout, he turned his attention to the rest of the Mariners' roster, wagging his finger at seemingly their entire bench.
After the game, Cole clarified what exactly had turned him into a Tim Robinson character after ending the seventh. Turns out he had heard a little something something from Mariners manager Scott Servais, and decided to throw it back in his face (after shoving for 7.1 innings).
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had beef with Mariners manager, not just Jose Caballero
According to Cole, he spotted Servais sending a finger wag in his direction, so he simply decided to give it back to him.
As for the pitch that "got away" from him earlier in the at-bat? Cole stayed hilariously mum on that one, acting like it had been a little chin music rather than a brushback pitch intended for the Goodyear blimp.
Yeah, Got to change eye levels, for sure. If the batter's looking to the skies, that typically throws him off the pattern. Might even notice a mysterious blinking light up there, get distracted. Love the way you think. All makes sense now.
When Cole starts after a Yankees loss, the team is now 7-0 in 2023, and emphatically reached that mark on Tuesday despite still being unable to muster more than three runs scored with their depleted offense. Expectations might not be as sky high as Cole's 0-2 pitch anymore, but the Yankees' ace has continued to deliver right on schedule.