As Gerrit Cole rang up strikeout after strikeout, his pitch count kept climbing.
The gem that Cole spun Monday against the Rays actually became a double-edged sword because he was not afforded an opportunity to work out of trouble in the eighth inning and quickly went from eyeing a no-hitter to settling for a no-decision in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory against the Rays.
“I’ve had a few good nights before,” Cole said laughing at how a no-hitter is one of the few things missing from his ace’s résumé. “Honestly though, in this situation, I’m just glad we got the win.”
After carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning against the lowly Tigers earlier this month, Cole completed seven no-hit innings with 12 strikeouts and three walks against the superior Rays. The only problem as he commanded all four of his weapons? He threw 103 pitches to protect a 2-0 lead, signaling to everyone at Tropicana Field that he needed to attack the strike zone with no room to waste pitches.
“I thought his slider was special early,” manager Aaron Boone said. “And then he just got in a rhythm there and was dominant.”
But when Isaac Paredes singled up the middle leading off the eighth, it was only a matter of time until a short leash disappeared. The next hitter, Josh Lowe, flew out to the deepest part of the ballpark, ending Cole’s night with an outstretched arm to acknowledge center fielder Aaron Judge for making the nifty gliding catch on pitch No. 111.
“I felt pretty fortunate to get away with the pitch to Lowe,” Cole said. “I was just kind of running low on steam at that point. Adrenaline kind of falls off. I’m glad it stayed in the park.”
Boone added, “I think he was gassed by the end.”
Cole watched from the dugout as the previously invincible Clay Holmes blew the save when the Rays scored two runs off two swings that didn’t send the bouncing ball 90 feet. Holmes (5-0) poached the win from Cole, whose 12 strikeouts were his most since 15 against the Angels on Sept. 1, 2021.
“I thought we had a good shot at it,” catcher Jose Trevino said of the no-hit bid. “Every night he goes out there he has a chance to do that.”
Cole threw 60 fastballs at an average velocity of 97.1 miles per hour — generating 10 of his 19 whiffs — and 27 sliders. The only time he had two runners on base was after issuing walks in the fifth to the light-hitting Brett Phillips and the just called-up Lowe, but he recovered to strike out Rene Pinto.
“In terms of the slider, we were picking the right times to throw them and smothering the corner a lot,” Cole said. “I’ve never thrown a no-hitter, so I can’t tell you what no-hit stuff looks like.”
It was the fourth time this season that a Yankees pitcher (Cole twice, Nestor Cortes and Jameson Taillon) has held a no-hitter through at least six innings.
Cole is 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 29 strikeouts versus seven walks in 19 ¹/₃ innings over three starts against the Rays this season.