Gerrit Cole probably did not anticipate his home debut as a New York Yankee taking place inside an empty stadium during the summer, and against an opponent a week after originally being on the schedule.
One thing Cole probably envisioned, however, was Aaron Judge wielding a hot bat.
Cole will be on the mound Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies and Judge will attempt to homer in a career-high sixth straight game when the teams begin their rescheduled home-and-home series.
The teams are scheduled to play four straight games with two games apiece in New York and Philadelphia. They were originally slated to get together last week but the games were postponed after the Miami Marlins saw numerous players test positive for coronavirus. Miami opened its season in Philadelphia so MLB kept the Phillies sidelined for the last week.
While the Phillies have been idle since their 11-6 loss to the Marlins on July 26, the Yankees are on a six-game winning streak. After sweeping two games in a makeshift series in Baltimore, the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of Boston, thanks to Judge.
Judge is the first Yankee to homer in five straight contests since Alex Rodriguez in September 2007. If he homers Monday, it will mark the fourth instance of a Yankee homering in six straight games.
“He’s just a great player that you can tell is feeling really good and I think all the way locked in at the plate,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters.
Don Mattingly tied the major league record when he homered in eight straight games in 1987 while Roger Maris (1961) and Lou Gehrig (1931) homered in six straight contests.
Each of Judge’s six homers has tied a game or given the Yankees a lead. He hit two during Sunday’s 9-7 win over Boston, including a go-ahead two-run blast in the eighth inning.
“How he’s raking right now, he’s a guy you don’t want to take your eyes off when he’s hitting,” Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said.
Judge hit two of New York’s three homers Sunday and the Yankees have homered in each of their first eight games for the fourth time in team history and two shy of the record set in 1999. Their 17 homers through the first eight games are their most since 2011 and 32 of their 45 runs are via homers.
Cole will be hoping to benefit from more power from his teammates after making two starts during the road trip. He last started Wednesday after the Yankees bused to Baltimore and allowed three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Cole is on a career-high 18-game winning streak and unbeaten in his last 24 starts dating to May 22, 2019.
He is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies, who did not report any positive cases after facing the Marlins. After not facing the Yankees last week, the Phillies were slated to face the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend but those games were postponed.
On Sunday, the Phillies reconvened for staggered workouts in Philadelphia after being idle for nearly a week as players stayed in shape on their own.
One of those was Jake Arrieta, who starts Monday nearly a year after injuring his elbow.
“We knew there were going to be challenges,” Arrieta said. “I give our pitchers credit. They’ve kept up doing as much as they could by themselves. Guys have been throwing into mattresses and brick walls.
“It is challenging. We knew that coming into the season. We had to be prepared for almost anything.
Arrieta is entering his third season with Philadelphia and is hoping to continue showing he is recovered after missing most of the second half of last season with an elbow injury. He was 8-8 with a 3.64 ERA before his season ended on Aug. 11, 2019, in San Francisco
Arrieta is 3-2 with a 3.98 ERA in nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Yankees.
–Field Level Media