MINNEAPOLIS — Gerrit Cole stuck it on Josh Donaldson and the Twins.
After the third baseman of the Twins faced the ace of the Yankees in the latest looming baseball scandal, with the righthander strongly suggesting that he was using illegal foreign substances to increase his spinning speed, Cole chided Donaldson in each of his first two at bats.
It was the most interesting part of another lopsided win for the Yankees over the hapless Twins, 9-6.
“I mean, he’s a former MVP and a big cog in the lineup,” Cole said of making the most of Donaldson. “Just the satisfaction of pitching there and putting the team in a better position to win was enough.”
Cole was strong on another steamy night at Target Field, overwhelming not just Donaldson, but much of the Twins lineup — though his spin rate dropped again, according to Baseball Savant.
The spin rate on his four-seamer had dropped (from an average of 2,552 rpm to 2,493). And it dropped more with its slider (2708 average to 2,621 Wednesday), while sitting on its knuckle curve and – most importantly – its change-up (which went from an average of 1,745 RPM to 1,870).
In his previous start – which Donaldson was referring to – the dips were even more drastic and consistent. What the differences are due to, only Cole knows for sure.
On Wednesday, he declined to comment on whether he was using anything more or less than in previous starts, saying it was not the right forum.
When asked if he believed the outing would settle the matter, Aaron Boone said, “Look, who knows? All I know is that he is a great pitcher and a great competitor. When all this dust settles and wherever the story goes, that doesn’t change. I thought his effort, with all the distractions going on, he went out and showed you who he was.
And that’s the crux of the current controversy among batters, pitchers, and Major League Baseball.
The league will crack down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers, and Donaldson has distinguished Cole for his recent reduced spin rate in the wake of minor league suspensions and impending appearance in the majors.
“I don’t regret it,” Donaldson said before the match of his previous comments about Cole. “I’m saying this: Gerrit Cole was the first man to pitch since the suspensions came in and he was the first man we saw spin rates drop. Since Gerrit threw, there have been 12 or more guys whose spin rates have dropped drastically in the past week. So it’s not just Gerrit.”
Cole probably won’t need anything extra to beat Minnesota, so the impact of the enforcement changes remains to be seen.
Cole gave up two solo homeruns, but that didn’t matter on Wednesday, as the Yankees knocked out Randy Dobnak for eight runs in 4 ²/₃ innings.
Giancarlo Stanton came out of his recent funk with two homeruns and a double off of Dobnak in the first five innings. Aaron Judge also homered and double against Dobnak, and Miguel Andujar homered for the fifth time in his last eight games.
There was booing from the polite Minnesota crowd when Cole’s name was announced before the game, but not much during the game itself.
Cole put Donaldson off with a knuckle curve of 1-2 after Donaldson swung a 100mph four-seamer.
Cole appeared to be staring down Donaldson after the strikeout.
The result was the same in the third, when Cole got Donaldson swinging again. In the sixth, Donaldson flied out.
Cole gave up two runs, while striking out nine and not walking a batter in the 94-pitched appearance.
“That’s what an ace does,” said Aaron Judge. “Nothing really scares that man off.”
It was Cole’s highest strikeout total since he pitched a dozen batters in eight shutout-innings against the Rays on May 12.
The Yankees had the game well in hand until Brooks gave up Kriske four runs in the ninth and forced Aroldis Chapman to get up in the bullpen before Kriske finished it off.