Gerrit Cole’s night was already going to be over, but as he walked off the mound to end the top of the sixth inning, he got himself ejected from the game while he was at it.
Soon after giving up a second home run Friday night, a two-out, three-run shot by Alex Verdugo that tied the score at four, Cole recorded the final out of the sixth inning and promptly began barking at home plate umpire Brian Knight.
Knight quickly tossed Cole, who was upset that his 1-2 pitch to Verdugo had been called a ball instead of a strike, which would have ended the inning. The next pitch he threw was a 99.5 mph fastball well in the strike zone that Verdugo deposited into the Yankees’ bullpen, leaving Cole bent over with his hands on his knees and a three-run lead erased.
“It’s just an emotional moment,” Cole said after his first career ejection in what became a 5-4 Yankees win. “I’m just a competitor. I’m just upset. … Quick fuse [by Knight]. Probably had to do with a bunch of the flack he was catching from us earlier.”
Verdugo, meanwhile, thought the pitch before his homer “wasn’t even close” to being a strike, as it appeared to miss just low and outside.
“[Cole] can complain all he wants,” Verdugo said. “But the goal of this game is to throw it over the white plate. He wants to steal every pitch and he wants his catcher to steal it. He’s just mad that the outcome happened on our side today [in that instance].”
Manager Aaron Boone jumped out of the dugout after Cole was tossed to protect his pitcher and catcher Jose Trevino, he said, then argued with Knight himself. That led to Boone also getting ejected for the ninth time this season.
The two home runs against Cole on Friday marked the 30th and 31st he has given up this season — tying a career-high and good for second in the league in home runs allowed in 2022.
“It’s stunning that they’ve hit his mistakes in the seats this year,” Boone said. “He was so good tonight. That’s what makes it tough. … I thought he was as dialed in as you could be. His body language was great all night. … He’s a pitch away from having an awesome outing. So I think there’s some frustration there.”
Cole, who struck out eight and walked two, has given up four runs and multiple home runs in each of his last three starts. It is a concerning trend as the Yankees inch closer to the postseason with the $324 million right-hander set to be their Game 1 playoff starter.
Boone and Cole both thought he made important strides from his last start in Milwaukee, but his final line was nearly the same.
“[The home run pitch to Verdugo] was the worst pitch of the sequence,” Cole said. “He put a beautiful swing on it and did what he wanted to do with the pitch. … The damage there is hard to swallow, but at the same time, there’s some things that we did well.”
— Additional reporting by Zach Braziller
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