NEW YORK — Gerrit Cole is back.
From the very first at-bat of the game, when he blew away Myles Straw on a 99 mph fastball, to the moment he walked off the Yankee Stadium mound to a standing ovation, the Yanks’ ace was his old, dominant self in a 10-2 win over the Guardians on Sunday afternoon.
Cole pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings to lead the Yankees to their first sweep of Cleveland since May 2018, allowing just four hits and one walk while racking up nine strikeouts.
It was Cole’s best start of the season by far. The issues that plagued the right-hander over his first three outings disappeared as he overpowered the Guardians’ lineup.
There was no jumping on him early, like the Red Sox did on Opening Day. There was no long-ball damage, like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays did to him in his second start. There was no command unraveling, like what happened in his 1 2/3-inning, five-walk slog against the Tigers his last time out.
There was only Cole striking out Cleveland hitter after Cleveland hitter, with his full arsenal working. Cole got five strikeouts on his four-seam fastball, which averaged 97.7 mph, plus two on his slider, one on his knuckle-curve and one on his new cutter.
DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo gave Cole plenty of breathing room. LeMahieu went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs and extended his hit streak to 11 games, and Rizzo went 2-for-4 with a homer, a double and two RBIs.