Rays Cannot Solve Gerrit Cole In 1-0 Loss To Yankees

Gerrit Cole struck out 12 in a 1-0 win over the Rays on Wednesday night. (AP, Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG — Gerrit Cole entered Wednesday night’s start having never defeated the Rays in the regular season.

Eight scoreless innings took care of that.

Cole allowed only four hits, fanned 12 and did not walk a batter in the Yankees 1-0 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field. The 30-year-old righthander threw 106 pitches (73 strikes) and watched from the bench as Aroldis Chapman put the Rays down in order in the ninth for his ninth save of the season.

Cole, who was 0-4 3.91 ERA in eight career regular-season starts against the Rays, improved to 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA. He has 78 strikeouts and only three walks in 52 ⅔ innings.

His lone career win against Tampa Bay was in Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS.

“We’re facing a guy that has it going and the margin for error is nil,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “I can’t say we did anything wrong. We couldn’t get anything going offensively.”

As was the case when they were held to three hits in Tuesday night’s series-opening loss, the Rays did not have much in the way of opportunities to score Wednesday.

A one-out first inning double by Austin Meadows that clanked off the B ring and a sixth inning double by Randy Arozarena, also with one out, were the only times the Rays got a runner in scoring position. They went 0-for-4 in attempting to bring them around and are 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the series.

The Rays are hitting a remarkably inept .134 with runners in scoring position in their 20 home games.

“Any type of momentum or pressure we put on, it seemed like he just got a little bit better,” said Cash, of Cole, who joined Whitey Ford as the only Yankees traditional starters to allow two earned runs or fewer in 12 consecutive starts. Chad Green also has a 12-game streak, but as an opener.
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The Rays pitching was strong again. Collin McHugh, who opened and went two innings, and four relievers combined to allow only a single run on six hits.

The Yankees scored the game’s only run with one out in the sixth when Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored Aaron Judge. Judge led off the inning with a single off Ryan Thompson and Gio Urshela followed with a double to put runners on second and third.

After Thompson got Luke Voit to ground out sharply to third baseman Joey Wendle, Jeffrey Springs was summoned to face Hicks. Hicks’ fly ball to Brett Phillips in center easily scored Judge.

Arozarena’s double landed just below the railing and off the top of the padding on the left field wall.

“I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t think I hit it that well,” he said, through an interpreter.

After scoring 23 runs in a four-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim, the Rays have scored only nine runs in losing four of their last five. They have scored one or no runs nine times in their first 38 games.

“We are still positive and this team is very united,” said Arozarena. “As hitters, we just have to adjust and the runs will come.”

The next chance for them to come will be in the series finale Thursday night (7:10) when Rich Hill (1-1, 5.17) opposes Jameson Taillon (1-2, 5.02).

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Yankees coaches Matt Blake, Reggie Willits and Phil Nevin and four staffers were absent due to positive COVID tests. Each was fully vaccinated. Shortstop Gleyber Torres was held out on a “cautionary” basis.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.