Now that’s more like it. The Yankees destroyed the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, winning 12-1 after last night’s miserable display. They improve to 32-23 on the season and made it even more difficult for Toronto to catch them for second place. These are all good things.

The game flew along until the 8th inning when it ground to a complete halt, but I’m not complaining. Any day the Yankees win is a good day in my book. Plus, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela all collected 3 or more hits while Gerrit Cole and the bullpen were nasty. Imagine complaining.

Anyway, let’s get right to the takeaways.

1. Gerrit Cole is an Ace: When the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole, it is fair to say that a lot of Yankee fans expected to see many, many GIFs like this:

(via Rob Friedman)

And that is exactly what we saw tonight. Cole actually surrendered quite a bit of hard contact – ten balls were classified as “hard hit” by StatCast tonight but it didn’t matter. Most of that hard contact was on the ground, and it powered Cole’s 7.0 IP of 5-hit, 7-strikeout ball. Here was the one blemish against Cole on the night, which came in the 4th inning with a 3-0 lead:

That was it. He also got into a bit of trouble in the 6th inning, when he allowed two singles to open up the inning. The bottom of the Jays lineup was no match for Cole, though. He induced three straight grounders to get out of the jam – including one with a tag play at home after the runners advanced to second and third – and that was that.

Here is his pitch plot on the evening:

One thing to notice there is his curveball, which was consistently thrown for strikes all evening. That makes a huge difference for him, as we’ve noted here quite a few times now. And while Cole only generated a 25% whiff-per-swing rate, that was more than enough to get the job done.

Cole now wraps up his first “regular” season in pinstripes with a 7-3 record and a 2.84 ERA. He’s just finding himself, too, which should bode well for next month. That seems pretty good, to me. Here is his full line:

2. Aaron Hicks Gets it Going: That was a truly tremendous game from Aaron Hicks. He’s having a bit of an unheralded year – his .218 batting average coming into the night obscures what was a 121 wRC+ – but still, it was nice to see what he did tonight. He was TK for TK with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Obviously, he was in the middle of the action. He got it started right in the first inning after an Aaron Judge single to left with this triple:

This made it 1-0 Yankees right away. It was nice to get off to a fast start here after yesterday’s clunker and Hicks did just that. His speed to get to third also set the stage for the Yankees to take a quick 2-0 lead, as he scored on a wild pitch right after:

Hicks added a two-run single in a big top of the 5th inning for the Yankees, which made the score 6-1. He got the Yanks on the board and delivered a big blow that started to put the game out of reach. Great stuff from Hicks. The Yankees’ switch hitter went 2-4 on the night, which raised his season line to .225/.384/.411 (125 wRC+). Good stuff. Hope he stays hot (he is hitting almost .300 in the last two weeks, so the signs are good.)

3. Aaron Judge Also Has a Big Night: It was a big night for the Yankees’ Aarons. Aside from a strikeout in the 7th, Judge had himself a nice night at the plate. He hit two singles and knocked in an RBI. Here is that RBI single:

This immediately preceded Hicks’ two-run single I discussed above and it made the score 4-1 Yankees. Judge scored 3 runs on the night in addition to this RBI. His power hasn’t quite come back since his return from the injury, but this is the first step. There is no real rehab in 2020, so we just need Aaron Judge to get his at-bats. Tonight, for the first time, Judge started to collect his knocks. He went 3-5 on the night. The power will follow…and the timing is pretty, pretty good, in my opinion.

4. Eighth Inning Madness: That sure was a strange, strange 8th inning. It started out in the top of the 8th with a two-out double from Gio Urshela that should have been caught. Clint Frazier walked, then Brett Gardner hit a bloop single to score a run and make it 8-1 Yankees. Kyle Higashioka did then did this:

This led to a length replay delay. Umpires initially ruled that this was a home run. After video review, though, they changed the call to a double. The review was centered around whether or not the ball ricocheted off the tarp in the back, which apparently it did not. I thought it was a HR off the bat, but YES had one angle that made it clear it was not. In any case, the score was 10-1…and Gerrit Cole once again showed that he may indeed be Kyle Higashioka’s primary pitcher.

But the weirdest part didn’t come until the bottom of the 8th inning. The Yankees put Tyler Lyons in the game, which is normal. The problem was that Lyons wasn’t actually on the lineup card. That means he came out into the game, warmed up, and then could not pitch. He was ineligible. It was all very odd. It looks like the Yanks just didn’t update the lineup card, either. Not great!

5. The Bullpen is Good: The Lyons screw up meant that Aaron Boone turned to Zack Britton for the 8th. I was fine with this. Britton needs the work, but the circumstances were definitely less than ideal – at this point, I just want these guys to have a normal set up to whatever degree possible. He got the job done, though, pitching a scoreless 8th. Britton got some grounders and a strikeout. That’s what you like to see.

Also what you like to see is Adam Ottavino pitch pretty well. He did that tonight. I’ve been tough on him lately – he deserves it – but he’s been much better lately. He pitched a scoreless 9th with two strikeouts. He’s pitched in two consecutive blowouts, but he has not surrendered a run since his horrendous night in Buffalo a few weeks ago. Let’s hope he can keep that up.

I’d also note that the bullpen overall has been very good since the horrid stretch. This shouldn’t be a surprise – they’re very good! – but it is a good sign indeed. The important games are coming quickly.

Leftovers

  • Gleyber Swings it Well: It was also a nice night for Gleyber Torres, who is starting to swing the stick better as of late. He went 3-5 with a double and 2 RBI, including this one below:
  • Gio Urshela Swings it Well, Too: It was also a really nice night for Gio Urshela, who went 4-5 and is now hitting over .300 on the season. He had two RBI, too. Just a nice night overall from the Yankee whose success always surprises me the most.

The Yanks and Jays play the third of this four-game set tomorrow night in Buffalo. Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 3.27 ERA) will take on Robbie Ray (2-5, 7.17 ERA) starting at 6:37 ET. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone.