Pa Disha Tosar
Posted by FOX Sports MLB

NEW YORK – Last taste until Tuesday Yankees fans had the postseason Gerrit Cole was his collapse vs Red Sox in the 2021 American League wild-card game in Boston last October.

Fast forward to his exit vs Cleveland, among thousands of Yankees fans rooting for their ace, and Cole didn’t just set the tone for New York’s playoff run. It was also his redemption.

After all the speculation about whether Cole is left-handed Nestor Cortes should get the ball in Game 1, it appeared the Yankees had the right guy on the mound after all.

Cole pitched 6⅓ innings of one-run ball in the Yankees 4-1 victory over Guardians in v Game 1 of the ALDS on Tuesday in the Bronx.

The right-hander struck out eight and walked four on 101 pitches, with 63 of those offerings coming for strikes. Cole was confident and cool in pressure moments and downright dirty against the bottom of Cleveland’s lineup. He also got some help from mostly sharp defenders behind him.

In addition Isiah Kiner-FalefaA Yankees error on a routine ground ball in the top of the first inning, the Yankees defense held on all night. This trend started with Harrison Bader quick throw to cut off a man on a Jose Ramirez a double in the third inning. Bader’s defensive IQ remained Amed Rosario from scoring and adding another early run to Cleveland. The Yankees were down 1-0 at the time Stephen Kwana solo home run by Cole earlier in the inning.

In the fourth extreme left Oswald Cabrera dashed sideways and made a tremendous leap in foul territory. Cabrera lost his hat over the wall in the process and punched a fan who handed it back to him before returning to his post in left field. His smooth catch was followed by the usual elite defense from the smooth Yankees third baseman. Josh Donaldson skilfully hooked an Austin Hedges line drive behind the third base bag and took a moment before firing to first base for the out.

New York’s defense helped Cole to eight walks in the fourth inning. He had 70 pitches by the end of that frame, and it was critical for the right-hander to work faster to pitch deep and avoid overusing a thin bullpen. Cole went 1-2-3 in the sixth and went 97 innings. After the Yankees gave him a 4-1 lead in the sixth, he returned in the seventh in a move that wasn’t risky at all.

Cole threw more than 97 pitches in 20 of 33 regular-season starts, with his highest in 118 pitches, 6⅔ innings on Sept. 7 vs. Twins. When someone can be charged with pitching deep in games — in light of the Yankees’ bullpen getting weaker after the unexpected news about the right-hander Scott EfrosTommy John’s operation is Cole. Of course, the flip side of Cole hitting 200⅔ innings in the regular season is that he could get on the gas sooner in the playoffs. But he is not there yet.

The Yankees ace recorded one more out in the seventh before giving up a line drive Miles Straw which deflected off Keener-Falefa’s leaping glove at shortstop. Cole was then pulled by Yankees manager Aaron Boone after 6⅓ innings and 101 pitches, allowing just one run on Kwan’s solo homer.

Steven Kwan hits a solo home run off Gerrit Cole

Stephen Kwan hits a solo home run to give the Cleveland Guardians a 1-0 lead in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Cole received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 47,807 as he returned to the Yankees’ dugout. After fending off the intrusive Guards, he positioned himself along the railings of the dugout and watched Jonathan Loaisiga to end the seventh inning without allowing any of his inherited runners to score.

And so Cole enters his 2022 postseason with a 1.42 ERA and a solid output to build on. If he can continue to stay off the lights with minimal to no home run damage, the Yankees have a chance to go as deep into the postseason as their No. 1 pitcher can.

For now, Tuesday showed that maybe Cole’s meltdowns are finally behind him.

Disha Tosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @Disha Tosar.

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