Gerrit Cole expected a tough battle from the moment he set foot in Tropicana Field, having lauded the Rays for an approach in which the Yankees’ American League East rivals never seem to take any pitches off. Neither did the Yanks’ ace.
Cole struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings as the Yankees blanked the Rays, 1-0, on Wednesday night. New York has won 11 of its past 14 games, improving to a season-high four games above .500 at 20-16.
Aaron Hicks lifted a seventh-inning sacrifice fly that provided the necessary margin of victory for Cole, who leaned heavily on his four-seam fastball to scatter four hits without a walk in a stellar 106-pitch performance. Cole now has 1,508 strikeouts over his nine-year MLB career.
The outing marked Cole’s first regular-season victory over the Rays. The right-hander entered Wednesday’s contest 0-4 with a 3.91 ERA in eight career regular-season starts against Tampa Bay. He is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four postseason starts against the Rays.