NEW YORK – Gerrit Cole walked off the mound slowly after the first inning, expecting to be stopped by umpires searching for banned sticky substances.
“Certainly I didn't walk past him or be oblivious to the check the first couple times when there was inevitably no check,” he said. “So, yeah, I thought about it a few times.”
Cole's explosive fastball was missing and his spin rate dropped as he pitched for the first time since Major League Baseball’s crackdown on grip enhancers began. He allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings before turning over a lead to the Yankees' bullpen, and Ryan O'Hearn and the Kansas City Royals rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to beat New York 6-5 Tuesday night.
O'Hearn, a 27-year-old playing his first major league game in three weeks following a stint at Triple-A Omaha, homered off Cole in the fourth and hit an infield single that tied the score 3-all in the eighth.
“I realize that I'm not getting any younger," he said. "I need to contribute. I need to make it happen.”
Luke Voit homered and tripled in his return from the injured list as the Yankees built a 3-2 lead.
Cole, among the most successful pitchers under the highest scrutiny, had his glove and cap searched by umpires after the third and sixth innings and was given an all-clear. A white card, presumably switchable signs, fell out of Cole’s cap when he handed it to umpires for first inspection.
His fastball reached 101 mph and averaged 97.6 mph, slightly above his 97.3 mph season average, and he threw just 46 fastballs along with 35 sliders, 18 curves and nine changeups.
“He's going to navigate this,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s a great pitcher with with great stuff, great delivery, all kinds of weapons.”
Cole's arsenal has changed this month.
He struck out six after fanning four against Toronto last Wednesday, his first consecutive outings with six or fewer strikeouts since September 2017. Cole had struck out 104 in his first 12 starts this season.
Cole’s fastball revolutions per minute averaged 2,289, down from 2,534 coming in. His curveball dropped to 2,664 from 2,824, his slider to 2,443 from 2,686 and his changeup to 1,644 from 1,812.
“Gosh, if I had a dollar for how many times the Pirates told me to pitch to contact, I mean, I may not have as much money now, but I’d still have quite a bit of money,” Cole said, recalling his first team, long before his record $324 million, nine-year contract with the Yankees. “That's what was hammered into us growing up. And a lot of those fundamentals never left my game."
Kansas City erased an eighth-inning deficit by taking a 6-3 lead against Jonathan Loaisga (7-3). Jarrod Dyson's go-ahead grounder brought Carlos Santana home with a great slide that beat second baseman Tyler Wade's throw, and Hunter Dozier and Michael A. Taylor singled in runs.
DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer in the bottom half against Kyle Zimmer and Aaron Judge doubled off the left-field wall against Scott Barlow, who then retired pinch-hitter Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton.
Greg Holland gave up Gio Urshela’s bloop single starting in the ninth, then got his fifth save in nine chances. He struck out Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, intentionally walked Gary Sánchez and retired Brett Gardner on a popout.
Jake Brentz (2-0) won after allowing New York to take a 3-2 lead on his seventh-inning wild pitch.
No. 66 on both teams homered in the same game for the first time in major league history, the Yankees’ Kyle Higashioka in the first inning off Brady Singer and O’Hearn in the fourth.
Voit hit a deep drive leading off the seventh. Dyson, just inserted into left field, jumped at the wall and as the ball went over his glove, a fan reached in front of the fence and dropped the ball, his hand hitting the back of Dyson’s glove.
Third base umpire Bill Miller signaled safe — meaning the ball was not a home run and was in play — as Voit slid into third. The call was upheld on a video review.
“I thought that was one of the worst placement rulings I’ve ever seen. The ball should be dead when the ball hits a fan’s hands," Royals manager Mike Matheny said.
ON THE FARM
LHP Angel Zerpa made his debut for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, allowing four runs and six hits with nine strikeouts and no walks against Arkansas. He had gone 4-0 with a 2.59 ERA for High-A Quad Cities.
Royals: After missing the first 45 games with a right oblique injury and returning to play 10, SS Adalberto Mondesi went on the 10-day IL on Monday for the third time, now for a strained left oblique. .
Yankees: RHP Darren O’Day (strained right rotator cuff) and LHP Justin Wilson (strained right hamstring) each pitched a scoreless inning as they started injury rehabilitation assignments with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Royals LHP Danny Duffy (4-3, 1.94) is to make his first start Wednesday since May 12 after recovering from a strained left forearm and will take the mound Wednesday against RHP Michael King (0-3, 4.08). Duffy estimated he will be able to throw up to about 65 pitches.
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