On Tuesday night, Gerrit Cole made some history with a personal accolade, but the rest of his outing was hardly enjoyable at least until his teammates rallied late.
After becoming the third fastest to reach 2,000 career strikeouts, Cole hopes to halt a six-game winless skid and revert to his dominance from the first month of the season Sunday afternoon when the New York Yankees host the San Diego Padres.
The Yankees are going for the series win after DJ LeMahieu hit a tying homer in the seventh and Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit the game-ending single in the 10th of Saturday's 3-2 win.
Cole (5-0, 2.53 ERA) is on a run of six straight no-decisions, and since winning five of his first six outings, he has a 4.67 ERA and allowed six homers in 27 innings. He reached 2,000 strikeouts Tuesday on a whiff of Jorge Mateo but also allowed five runs on six hits, including solo homers to Cedric Mullins and Gunnar Henderson in five-plus innings.
Cole was in line for the loss after reaching 2,000 strikeouts in his 278th career game. The only players to reach the milestone faster were Randy Johnson, who reached it in his 262nd game, and Clayton Kershaw in his 277th game. Cole avoided the loss when Aaron Judge hit a tying homer in the ninth and rookie Anthony Volpe hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th.
"The stuff was pretty good but the command was not good enough," Cole said. "I thought we were non-competitively out of the zone too many times."
Cole is 4-2 with a 1.65 ERA in seven career starts against the Padres. He last faced them April 7, 2018, with Houston when he fanned 11 in seven innings of a no-decision though nobody in that game is still on the Padres.
The Padres will attempt to get to Cole after mustering one hit against Luis Severino and three hits overall Saturday. Fernando Tatis Jr. homered for the second straight game and Juan Soto reached based twice but the Padres were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and dropped to 3-9 in one-run games.
"It was going to come down to one play at the end," San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. "We've got a guy with a high ground ball rate up there. He hits a ground ball. It just finds the line."
San Diego held Xander Bogaerts out of the starting lineup due to wrist soreness. Bogaerts appeared as a pinch hitter in the ninth Saturday and is expected to play Sunday.
The Padres will counter Cole by starting Yu Darvish (3-3, 3.67), who is two shy of 100 career wins.
Darvish last pitched Tuesday in Washington when he allowed three runs on six hits in six innings to earn the win.
The veteran right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees, including an 0-1 mark and a 2.70 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium. Darvish is facing New York for the first time since June 23, 2017, when he fanned 10 and allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings of a no-decision for the Texas Rangers.
Darvish also is opposing Cole for the second time. The first instance was Sept. 9, 2013, in Texas. Cole, in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, earned the win as he allowed three hits and struck out nine in seven scoreless innings. Pitching for the Rangers, Darvish gave up a run on four hits in seven innings of a 1-0 Pittsburgh win.
--Field Level Media