New York Daily News

BIG SHOTS with Yanks

Cole comes up aces on hill while Judge blasts 430-foot HR in romp

- @Swami_EA BY KRISTIE ACKERT

“After 6 years of playing college football, Sam Darnold is headed to the NFL.”

Andre Weingarten with Sanchez behind the plate, Cole went 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a .224 opponents batting average.

Sanchez lost his grip on the starting spot to Higashioka last September after Cole made it clear he preferred throwing to Higashioka. He lost the job mostly because he was hitting .147/.253/.365 with 64 strikeouts in 156 at-bats. This season, Sanchez is 3-for-15 with two home runs. Boone also rested center fielder Aaron Hicks Tuesday night. Hicks has seven strikeouts through his first 15 at-bats. He has one infield single and three walks.

WILSON WAITING FOR WEEKEND

Justin Wilson is on track to come off the injured list for this weekend’s series against the Rays in Florida. The lefty reliever suffered shoulder tightness in his March 22 appearance.

“Everything went really well. He looked good. I think he threw about 20-22 pitches,” Boone said of Wilson’s live batting practice session Tuesday afternoon.

The last start was an emotional day. After a year of no fans and family in the ballpark, Gerrit Cole finally had the debut in the Bronx he expected. There were fans and family. His father, a lifelong Yankees fan, was in the ballpark, reveling in the old pictures that decorate the suites. The Yankees ace said his dad liked the rare pictures of Yankees history.

Tuesday night, it was all about business for Cole — and making a little history of his own. The right-hander pitched seven scoreless, four-hit innings as the Yankees beat the Orioles, 7-2, in front of 9,404 at the Stadium.

“I felt like he was kind of on the attack all night. I just think he’s dictating counts. For running up big strikeout numbers, it didn’t seem like there were a lot of deep counts, necessaril­y,” Aaron Boone said. “So I think he’s just pounding the strike zone and obviously when he’s ahead, he’s got a lot of weapons to put you way with.”

The Yankees (3-2) won their second straight and clinched their first series win of the season. Aaron Judge notched three hits, including a 432-foot home run, his second homer in as many days. Jay Bruce homered for the first time in pinstripes to help give Cole his first win of the season. Chad Green pitched a perfect eighth. Lucas Luetge allowed a two-run homer to Rio Ruiz in the ninth.

But Cole had already beaten down the Orioles.

The 30-year old scattered four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 13. He threw 97 pitches, 71 for strikes. It was the most strikeouts by a Yankee pitcher since Sept. 29, 2017 when Masahiro Tanaka struck out 15 Blue Jays.

Cole became just the sixth Yankee pitcher to toss at least seven innings and record at least 13 strikeouts without giving up a walk. He joins some pretty historic names like Tanaka, Mike Mussina (who did it twice), David Wells, John

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Candelaria and Ron Guidry.

That also gave Cole his 39th career double-digit strikeout game, his 25th since 2019 — the most by any pitcher in the majors. He has had at least seven punchouts in his last 11 regular-season games dating back to Aug. 8, 2020, a franchise record.

And he’s finding ways to get better. In just two games this season, Cole has relied on a changeup that evolved into a weapon. Throughout his career, Cole’s usage of the changeup has been below 10%, but so far in these two starts he is relying on it 15% of the time.

“I think the opportunit­y is presenting itself. We’re just trying to always evolve and I think last year, when some other pitches weren’t working, we were kind of forced to try to find opportunit­ies to attack the strike zone with it,” Cole said. “And I think we just kind of continued that mentality.”

Behind Cole, the Yankees pitching has started off pretty strong. It was nearly the second straight shutout for the Bombers, and they have allowed three or fewer runs in the first five games of the season.

Judge, who had hit his first homer of the season Monday night to right field, drilled this one to left, driving in three in the bottom of the eighth.

Bruce found the short porch in right field. The lefty-batting first baseman hit a 354-foot shot into the lower level.

That came after he saved Cole and the Yankees a run in the first. While still learning first base, Bruce crept up on Anthony Santander’s hot shot to first and fired right to home plate where he nabbed Cedric Mullins.

“I thought Jay made a great play to first kind of cut the momentum down there,” Cole said. “I mean, one (run) probably doesn’t kill us, but you know, it’s nice to get out of there unscathed. Bit fortunate.

“Then I thought that we just kept them off balance and made a lot of good pitches and came in the zone. I think sometimes when they weren’t expecting (it), we got them to chase off of good pitches back to back,” Cole said.

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 ?? AP/GETTY ?? Gerrit Cole (r.) delivers in fourth inning and Aaron Judge sends one deep into seats in eighth as Yankees cruise past Orioles Tuesday night at Stadium.
AP/GETTY Gerrit Cole (r.) delivers in fourth inning and Aaron Judge sends one deep into seats in eighth as Yankees cruise past Orioles Tuesday night at Stadium.

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