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Game 62: Good Pitching, Good Hitting, and a Win over the Twins

Ah, now that’s more like it. The Yankees should get to play the Twins all of the time. It’s frankly kind of rude that they don’t! With the win tonight, the Yankees improve to a ridiculous 105-37 against the Twins since the start of the 2002 campaign. The Twins have won multiple divisions, gone through multiple iterations of the team with Hall of Fame players and All Stars, and it just doesn’t matter. The Yankees absolutely own them. OWN them. It’s great and I hope it never stops.

It was a great formula tonight too. Gerrit Cole’s spin rate was fine, his velocity was dominant, and he carved through a horrific Twins lineup. The Yankees hit some home runs and even got some production out of Brett Gardner. Offensive malaise? Couldn’t be our team.

Anyway, it was a great return to form for the Yankees. Let’s get right to the takeaways…but not until we appreciate the best tweet of all time:

1. Spider Tack? Never Heard of It: Gerrit Cole is obviously the talk of baseball right now for his hilarious non-answer to the Spider Tack question he got in yesterday’s press conference. Couple that with the fact that: 1) he obviously used the sticky stuff and 2) his spin rates were down last time out against Tampa, and you’ve got yourself a story. Josh Donaldson picked up on it, too, and called Cole out pretty directly. So, what did Cole do? He just went out and did this in the first inning:

I love the hat-tip and stare down at the end there. Cole had clearly heard what Donaldson said and wanted to show him what he thought about his reliance on foreign substances. (He’d strike him out again and induce a popup later on in the game, too. Great stuff.) It’s also worth noting that Cole touched 100 mph in the first. He was fired the hell up.

Of course, Donaldson was not the only batter in the Twins lineup. Cole didn’t have trouble with any of them, either. All told, Cole pitched 6 innings, allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (both solo shots), struck out 9, and didn’t walk anyone. That is a vintage Gerrit Cole start right there – and it would have been longer if it wasn’t a laugher by the 7th, since he only had 94 pitches at that point.

Cole got it done tonight with an overwhelming number of fastballs (48%), even though he only elicited 2 whiffs on 24 swings against the pitch. He was really so effective because of his approach with two strikes. Look at this:

Here’s what that looked like in practice:

Pretty good stuff. But anyway, let’s get to the part we all were waiting for: his spin rates. Yes, they were down again. They were also less down than last time, for what it’s worth. Here’s the chart:

That’s not too alarming to me. It really isn’t. Pretty non-existent and seems like general fluctuations. I think it’s pretty clear that Cole is a damn good pitcher, Spider Tack or otherwise. The Yankees are lucky to have him. (He also threw some two-seamers tonight, which is honestly pretty interesting and is reminiscent of his Pittsburgh days. Something to keep an eye on.)

2. Just the Right Amount of Homers: You know what I’ve missed lately? Yankee home runs. Honestly, if the Yankees played the Twins all of the time – or even played in the AL Central – I bet we’d see quite a few more of them. This division, and the Twins in general, are so bad – and the Yankees absolutely teed off on them tonight. Judge got the party started in the 1st inning:

Giancarlo Stanton, who’s been struggling a bit, apparently got jealous of watching his massive friend have all the fun. He took Judge’s home run and raised him one, first by absolutely obliterating a pop up (?) 400+ feet to dead center:

And that was a three-run home run, too. What a concept! Giancarlo also did this, just for good measure:

And Miguel Andújar, who has been homering a lot lately, also wanted to join in on the party. So he did:

That’s 4 home runs on the night, all off Randy Dobnak. They were all sliders, too, and they were all hangers.

Stanton’s are two sliders right on top of each other there. I promise. Anyway, what really sticks out to me about this is the fact that they’re all strikes. At least three of them were hangers, too. Those are the pitches the Yankees haven’t been crushing lately, but they did tonight. It’s no wonder they won.

More of that, please.

Leftovers

  • Miggy Mantle Makes His Return: I love Miguel Andújar. How can you not? When he’s on a roll like he has been lately, he is absolutely one of the most fun players in the Yankee lineup. He has 5 HR in his last 8 games, and his hot streak has ruled. He went 2-4 on the day with a HR and a sac fly.
  • Brett Gardner’s Healed: Nothing like the Twins to cure the longest-tenured Yankee. Brett Gardner had 3 hits and 2 doubles. It was a vintage performance. Hope to see him heat up, too.
  • As Go Stanton and Judge, So Go the Yankees: Stanton and Judge went 5-9 with 3 HR and 6 RBI today. That will do. Not going to lose many games when your best hitters do that.
  • Bullpen Magic: Nice night for both Luis Cessa, who held the Twins scoreless over two innings of work. Not such a nice night for Brooks Kriske, who gave up 4 runs in the 9th. Oh well. Win’s a win.

The Yankees and Twins will play the final game of this three-game set tomorrow evening at 8:10 pm ET. Mike King (0-3, 3.62 ERA) will take on J.A. Happ (3-2, 5.61 ERA) in that one. I’m sad this series will be over. Until then, enjoy your night, everyone.

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1 Comment

  1. Wire Fan

    Sadly Cole is going to be the poster boy for illegal substances. And it will be about the Yankees, not the Astros who like the sign stealing, look to have taken cheating to a whole new level on the pitching side too about 4-5 years ago (Cole, Verlander, Morton, McCullers to name a few possibilities)

    I am sure it is widespread but like sign stealing it is not simply a binary question. It’s like speeding – there is a difference between someone doing 70mph in a 65mph zone vs someone going 120 mph. Both are speeding but one has potentially way more impact.

    While the vast majority of pitchers are clearly using something, my guess is that there is a pretty wide spread in substances and effectiveness.

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