Gerrit Cole, Yankees try to stave off sweep by Angels

MLB

Gerrit Cole will start on the mound for the New York Yankees on Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., striving to continue a dominant stretch that began with his return from the COVID-19 injured list.

The Yankees have lost four straight games, including the first two in this series.

Cole had his worst start of the season on July 29 against Tampa Bay, giving up eight runs (seven earned) in 5 1/3 innings in a 14-0 loss. After the loss, he went to the COVID injured list and missed 17 days.

But in three starts since returning, Cole has been outstanding, going 3-0 with a 0.51 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.

His strikeout total has been particularly noteworthy, as he reached the 200 for the season in his last start. By getting there in 148 innings, he reached 200 faster than any Yankees pitcher in club history. The previous record was 168 1/3 innings by Michael Pineda in 2016.

“It’s not a goal,” Cole said. “It’s just my job.

“I’m just trying to go out there and throw a quality start. If the strikeout is the most efficient way to get it, then so be it. It’s a special little record, but it’s a little one.”

Cole (13-6, 2,80 ERA) is a top contender to win the American League Cy Young Award, which would be his first. He finished second in the voting to teammate Justin Verlander in 2019 while playing for the Astros. He struck out a major league-best 326 that season.

In 10 career starts against the Angels, Cole is 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA.

Left-hander Packy Naughton will be on the mound for the Angels, his first career major league start. He has made two relief appearances this season, including an impressive performance his last time out. Last Friday against San Diego, he gave up two unearned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Jo Adell is expected back in the lineup in left field, the once highly touted prospect making inroads toward moving past a forgettable rookie season last year, when he hit just .161, struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances and struggled mightily on defense.

Adell went 0 for 4 Tuesday against the Yankees and is hitting .216 with one homer, a .589 OPS while striking out in 27 percent of his plate appearances. Numbers-wise, the improvements are not overwhelming. But his mental approach has improved drastically, according to Angels manager Joe Maddon.

“Different guy completely; he cannot be any more different,” Maddon said. “The at-bats have become noticeably better. He’s got a great ability to shut down on a bad pitch; he’s always been good at discerning the strike zone. But all these little things are showing up better right now. I think that’s the biggest difference from where I’m standing.”

Adell said a big-picture perspective allowed him to avoid letting the disappointment of last season affect him this year.

“I’m making adjustments,” he said. “I’m trying different things out. I’m not afraid to fail if I switch something up in the box. I’m learning myself, learning what these guys are doing to me in the box.

“And I just have to look at it like, there’s so much time and so much growth left for me. I look at it that way. I’m not really concerned about scrolling through the numbers and whatnot. I’m coming here every day and I’m trying to get better.”

–Field Level Media

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