BOSTON — Gerrit Cole stood at the back of the Fenway Park mound, exasperation sagging his shoulders. Rafael Devers had just hit his second home run of the game, continuing to hold the upper hand in their personal history, and the Yankees ace stretched his arms out as if to say, “What the hell are you doing?”
Fortunately for Cole, his teammates had already provided all the necessary answers for this evening. Josh Donaldson threw a grand slam, the Yanks’ third in the past two nights, and Aaron Hicks homered for the second time in as many games the Bombers held for a 6-5 win over the Red Sox Thursday.
“It was a really good atmosphere,” Donaldson said. “That’s what baseball is here; two very good teams competing against each other, playing hard. I’m happy for us that we were able to win today.
So while Devers’ outbursts on Cole sparked a comeback and thrilled the home crowd, even that five RBI performance wouldn’t stop the Yankees from becoming the first Major League team to reach 60 wins this season. Thanks to Cole and the bullpen, Jose Trevino’s RBI brace was the difference in New York’s first visit to Fenway Park since last year’s AL Wild Card Game.
“You feel a little cooler – it felt like a warm September or October night,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We haven’t been back here for a while, and coming here with [the Red Sox] playing better is always fun.
Two walks and a hit set the stage in the third inning for Donaldson, who threw a 95.1 mph lead off rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski for the sixth Grand Slam of his career, a blast that cleared the field wall central. Hicks followed up by hitting Winckowski’s next pitch into the visitor’s bullpen in right field, depositing five quick runs into Cole’s back pocket.
“It was a big situation for us, to give us some cushion,” Donaldson said.
If Boston’s lineup hadn’t contained Devers, Cole and the Yanks might have burst out laughing; perhaps not on the level of their 16-0 rout of the Pirates on Wednesday, which featured Grand Slams from Aaron Judge and Hicks, but a comfortable place nonetheless.
(By the way, the last Major League team to score three Grand Slams in a two-game span was the 2011 Yankees – Robinson Canó, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all hit one in a game of 22-9 against Athletics that season.)
Instead, Devers continued his push for the American League All-Star team by tattooing a third-inning Cole slider for a two-run outburst, then throwing a fifth-inning change for a three-run shot. . This last homer immediately followed a visit to the mound in which pitching coach Matt Blake told Cole that “one homer doesn’t beat us here,” which ultimately proved to be true.
Cole gave up six homers in 23 career at bats against Devers, his record against any batter. Three players connected for four home runs against Cole — coincidentally, all wore Yankees stripes, including two who currently do: Matt Carpenter, Joey Gallo and Ji-Man Choi.
“I’m open to suggestions; you all watch the game too,” Cole said. “He has the ability to get a ball out the bottom of the area, has the ability to catch my fastball. He proved it. … It’s pretty wild. There was simply no misfire. Roll once. Queue once. You’re supposed to fail 7 out of 10 times at this gig. I don’t know what the deal is.
If Devers has anything on Cole, he wasn’t about to reveal it, saying, “I just see him as a normal pitcher. I’m just trying to find my ground and try to do some damage in the area.
While Cole’s frustration was evident, he could accurately repeat twice, “That didn’t beat us.” The hit that kept the Yanks ahead came in the fifth inning, when Trevino called a Hicks triple with a sky-high popup that carried an expected .010 batting average.
It was the 1% moment: the ball slipped past first baseman Franchy Cordero, falling to the infield for a double – briefly changed by the official scorer to an error, then came back, restoring the shot sure and the RBI of Trevino.
“I say [Cordero] doesn’t have a ton of infield experience,” Boone said. “It drifted on him a bit. He was suspicious of the receiver, then you start covering your tracks and it’s too late.
Cole – with three scoreless innings of backup assists from Wandy Peralta (two strikeouts in 1 1/3 frames), Michael King (a walk in two-thirds of an inning) and Clay Holmes (a K in the ninth for his 16th save) — made sure he held his own.
“It was huge,” Holmes said. “We know that’s how we’re going to win a lot of games, everyone getting involved and making little plays. It’s just big, the bullpen comes in and holds them there for a run. It’s a big team victory for us.
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