Gerrit Cole flirted with history earlier this month, throwing 6.2 perfect innings against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. On Monday, against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees' ace recaptured that level of dominance on the mound, but fell short once again.
After seven no-hit innings, Cole allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth, ending his no-hit bid. To make matters worse, closer Clay Holmes couldn't shut the door in relief of Cole, allowing two runs to score.
Nonetheless, even if Cole didn't factor into the decision, the Yankees were able to come out on top.
An RBI triple from Aaron Hicks and a sacrifice fly from Jose Trevino in the top of the ninth gave New York a decisive two-run lead. Left-hander Wandy Peralta put the tying run on base, but finished off the save in the bottom of the frame, securing the 4-2 victory.
With the win, the Yankees are the first team in Major League Baseball with 50 wins this season.
Cole threw 111 pitches over 7.1 frames, recording 12 strikeouts and walking just three batters. He was charged with one earned run as second baseman Isaac Paredes, who started the eighth with a single up the middle, came around to score while Holmes was on the mound.
Tampa Bay tied the game on an infield single from Manuel Margot, scoring catcher Francisco Mejia (who doubled off Holmes earlier in the frame). The run scored was the first time Holmes has allowed an earned run since Opening Day. He entered play with a 31.1 scoreless innings streak.
Cole's chance to throw a perfect game was gone in the first inning. With two outs, the right-hander walked first baseman Ji-Man Choi on six pitches, losing him after getting ahead 1-2.
The ace proceeded to retire 11 batters in a row, not allowing another baserunner until he walked outfielder Brett Phillips with one man out in the fifth. Cole would walk one more batter in the fifth—Josh Lowe—before mowing down the next seven he faced.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone took Cole out after a flyout to the wall in center field. He received a well-deserved standing ovation as he walked to the visitor's dugout in St. Petersburg.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankees were able to give Cole some early run support before tacking on another insurance run. First baseman Anthony Rizzo continued his recent hot stretch, homering off Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan in the first. It was his 19th long ball of the season, tied for the third-most homers in the league this year.
Then, in the top of the seventh, after a leadoff double from Gleyber Torres, catcher Jose Trevino reached on a chopper in the infield to make it a 2-0 game. Choi couldn't secure the throw to first from shortstop Vidal Brujan, allowing Torres to score.
After Tampa Bay battled back, Hicks delivered the biggest blow of the game. With Josh Donaldson running from first, the left fielder smacked a triple off the right-field wall. He scored a few pitches later as Trevino whacked a sac fly to deep left.
Hicks also made the final out on defense in the bottom of the ninth, snagging a blooper in shallow left-center field to end the game.
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