Gerrit Cole put the Yankees in another early hole, but this time it had nothing to do with Billy Crystal.
After admitting frustration over his Opening Day start being delayed by a few minutes while the actor and famous pinstripe fan threw out the ceremonial first pitch, Cole surrendered a couple of prodigious home runs to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. over the first three innings Wednesday night to put the Yankees down by three runs in an eventual 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays at the Stadium.
Without a full spring training buildup following the winter lockout, Cole had lasted just four innings — allowing three early earned runs — in an eventual 6-5 win over the Red Sox in the season opener last Friday.
“I thought he continued where he left off, actually,” manager Aaron Boone said of Cole after the game. “The Boston game was the first four hitters. From there I thought he was really sharp. I thought he continued that tonight and made a lot of good pitches. By and large, he stayed away from mistakes, other than a hanging slider to Vlad. … But he had a night against us.”
With two outs in the first inning, Guerrero crushed a hanging slider for his first of three homers on the night, which bounced off of leaping center fielder Aaron Hicks’ glove and just over the wall — confirmed via a replay review — to provide the Jays a 1-0 lead.
One inning later, Hicks stepped on a stretching Guerrero’s bare right hand while beating out an infield single, but the bloodied first baseman remained in the game.
Following Bo Bichette’s one-out double in the third, Guerrero got around on an inside pitch at the knees and ripped another homer into the left-field seats for a 3-0 game.
“He’s really good and was so quick to that pitch and did it again later against [Jonathan Loaisiga]. He had a good night,” Cole said.
Those were the only runs Cole (85 pitches) allowed, however, before Boone lifted him with two outs in the sixth, after the Yanks had forged a 3-3 tie in the previous half-inning. Guerrero laced an opposite-field double with one out, but the $324 million ace recorded a ground-ball out before Chad Green completed the inning.
“Overall, pretty good, got pretty deep, too,” Cole said. “A few extra bullets in the clip, maybe I could have finished it off. … Tough lineup and we executed a lot of good pitches. Didn’t get away with a couple, but did with a few. I think the consistency is starting to come a little bit.”