Yankees’ Gerrit Cole to face old mates in Houston amid rough patch

MLB

New York Yankees ace right-hander Gerrit Cole will get the ball Saturday in the middle game of a three-game series against the club that helped spark his career revival: the Houston Astros.

Cole will make his first start at Minute Maid Park in Houston and his second overall against the Astros since departing Houston for the Bronx following the 2019 World Series. His return Friday came with the requisite positive vibes.

“It was good to see the staff here,” Cole said. “Caught up with pretty much everybody at this point, which has been nice. There’s a bit of nostalgia there.”

Cole (8-4, 2.91 ERA) earned two All-Star Game nods while going 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA with the Astros. In Houston, he finished fifth and second in American League Cy Young Award voting, with his runner-up finish in 2019 coming to teammate Justin Verlander. Cole led the majors in strikeouts (326), adjusted ERA (185) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.8) that season.

In two seasons with the Astros, Cole recorded 602 strikeouts over 412 2/3 innings.

Cole was named an All-Star this week but like the Yankees at large, he has scuffled of late, going 0-1 in his past two starts against the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. He gave up 10 runs in a combined 8 2/3 innings against those teams.

Prior to their 4-0 victory over the Astros Friday, the Yankees were 16-23 since climbing a season-high nine games over .500 on May 23. The series in Houston is crucial on several fronts.

“I think it’s an important start regardless,” Cole said. “Obviously we have a good team. We’re playing against (a team) in the American League that you measure yourself against as the top of the league and ultimately a team that if they continue to play well, we’ll have to overcome them in the postseason.”

Right-hander Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.64 ERA) will start for the Astros on Saturday. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with a season-high-tying eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians last Sunday but did not factor into the decision in the Astros’ 4-3 win.

Greinke is 4-0 with a 3.15 ERA over his past seven starts. He is 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA over 16 career games (13 starts) against the Yankees, including a start on May 4 when he allowed three runs on three hits and four walks with four strikeouts over four innings. The Astros lost 7-3, but Greinke took a no-decision.

After mustering one run on six hits in their series finale against the Oakland Athletics Thursday, the Astros managed just three hits while suffering only their second shutout loss this season. Houston has excelled offensively despite the intermittent absences of several regulars during the first half, but the loss of All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa (health and safety protocols) in addition to the absence of third baseman Alex Bregman (left quad strain) left them punchless.

“We ran into some pretty good pitching,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “The guy (Oakland right-hander Frankie Montas) was lights out and (Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes) was mixing it up.”

–Field Level Media

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