Gerrit Cole strikes out 8 in 6.1 innings, Yankees win 4-1 over Guardians in ALDS opener

Gerrit Cole lowers his postseason ERA to 1.42 after win against Cleveland Guardians Tuesday night.

By Kristie Ackert | New York Daily News

Gerrit Cole soaked in the moment. After failing to leave with a win in his last two playoff appearances and struggling with the home run ball all season, the Yankees ace was able to erase that Tuesday night with one big start in October. Cole held the Guardians to a run and the Yankees powered their way to a 4-1 win in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees jumped out to the early lead in the best-of-five game series with a go-ahead two-run homer from Anthony Rizzo in the sixth. Harrison Bader hit his first homer as a Yankee and first career postseason homer to tie the game. Jose Trevino had a sacrifice fly, scoring Isiah Kiner-Falefa, in both of their first postseason appearances. Aaron Judge went hitless, but walked and stole second, setting up RIzzo’s go-ahead shot.

The Bombers will host the Guardians for Game 2 on Thursday, weather permitting, with Nestor Cortes Jr., who was arguably the Yankees best pitcher this season, on the mound against Guardians’ ace Shane Bieber.

The Yankees improved to 13-10 in 23 postseason games against Cleveland, having won the 1998 AL Championship Series, 2017 ALDS and 2020 Wild Card Series against them. Cleveland won the 1997 and 2007 ALDS.

Cole held the Guardians to a run on four hits over 6.1 innings pitched, throwing 101 pitches. He struck out eight and walked one. He left after giving up a single to Myles Straw, a liner off Kiner-Falefa’s glove with one out in the seventh.

Cole smiled for one of the few times in his postgame press conference when talking about walking off the mound to a standing ovation.

“Yeah, it was very special for me. It was very special. The game’s not over… I left with traffic. So it’s not the most comfortable time to acknowledge the crowd, but I certainly felt it and appreciated it,” Cole said. “I thought they were in every pitch tonight, and what a wonderful experience to have them behind us.”

It was different than the reactions he’s gotten here this season as he allowed a career-high 33 home runs and after last year’s disastrous start in the AL Wild Card Game, which ended the Yankees 2021 season.

In that game last postseason, Cole faced just 12 batters and recorded only six outs as the Yankees fell 6-2 to their rivals. He gave up two home runs and was taken out with two on and no outs in the third inning. Afterward, Cole said he felt “sick to my stomach.”

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