MEMORY POLICE – Ever so briefly, Gerrit Cole stared at Josh Donaldson, a player he had knocked out in each of his first two bats Wednesday night.
Over the weekend, Donaldson, a third baseman for the Minnesota Twins, had accused Cole, the ace in the Yankees’ rotation, of slanting using sticky substances to increase the spin speed of his seats to make them more effective. On Wednesday, Donaldson faced the superstar pitcher he had accused of overmatching.
After his first strike, he had shouted frustrated after hitting a high breaking ball. After the second, he said something to the domain Quinn Wolcott before leaving. On Donaldson’s third bat as he flew out to the right field leading from the bottom of the sixth inning, Cole looked at Donaldson as he ran toward first base.
Donaldson did not look Cole’s way back then either.
On a suffocating night at Target Field, Cole had the last word, allowing two runs in six innings and knocking out nine in a 9-6 Yankees victory.
The spin speed for Cole’s four-nailed fastball and shooter fell slightly below his season average for a second start in a row, though his curve turned slightly faster than usual per second. Website Baseball Savant. But unlike his last start, when he allowed a season-high five runs in a loss at Tampa Bay, Cole effectively beat the Twins.
His speed was up – his sixth pitch at night, to Donaldson, peaking at 100 miles per hour – and the last place the Twins managed was just five hits against him. Solo homers by Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano accounted for the two runs that Cole allowed.
“I just thought he came out with a huge focus, as he always does, blocking out all the noise, going out and performing and pitching,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The tense matchup between pitcher and dough came four days after Donaldson wondered aloud to reporters if it was a coincidence that Cole’s spin rates fell after four minor leagues had had 10 games suspended for the illegal use of sticky substances on baseballs. (Cole attributed his poor performance to poor mechanics.)
Donaldson said Wednesday that he does not regret speaking and added that he did not believe Cole was the sole perpetrator.
“He was the first guy to hit up since the suspensions happened, and he’s the first guy you could see spin rates go down,” Donaldson said. “There have been 12 guys whose spin prices have fallen in the last week. So it’s not just Gerrit Cole. ”
Increased spin changes the plane and motion of pitches, making them harder to hit. Throughout baseball history, pitchers have used various drugs to better grasp baseball, an illegal but often overlooked process. There is a growing belief that the recent dominance of jars can be attributed in part to widespread use of substances such as Spider Tack, a sticky paste that can allow jugs to dramatically increase their spin speed.
Cole’s spin prices rose markedly from 2017 to 2019 when he won a career-high 20 games with the Houston Astros. At an awkward news conference Tuesday, Cole would not answer if he had ever used Spider Tack.
“I was hesitant about the specifics of the question because I do not think this is the forum to discuss that kind of thing,” Cole said on Wednesday. “There is an appropriate time for the players to discuss these things. I keep it on that forum. ”
Wednesday night, Cole’s fastball averaged 98.2 mph, just above his season average. He would not admit any further satisfaction with knocking Donaldson out twice. The Coles’ 113 strikeouts this season are the most through 13 starts in club history, improving on Al Downing’s 104 in 1963.
Cole, now 7-3, added that he has not spoken to Donaldson about his comments.
“I see no need for it; I’m good, ”he said. “But if he has anything more to say, he’s welcome to reach out or whatever.”