Behind seven strong innings from Masahiro Tanaka and some late heroics by Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees began the second half of the season with a 4-3 win over the Mariners last night at Yankee Stadium.
Tanaka allowed three runs in the victory, with Kyle Seager doing all of the damage. Seager hit a solo home run in the third inning before hitting a two-run shot in the fifth. However, Tanaka was able to keep the rest of the Mariners offense off the board. He struck out seven and walked two in the victory and now owns a 3.65 ERA and 74/15 K/BB ratio over 74 innings on the year.
The game was tied 3-3 before Alex Rodriguez connected for a go-ahead solo homer off Joe Beimel in the bottom of the seventh inning. You can watch it here. It was A-Rod’s 19th home run of the season and the 673rd of his career. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each threw a scoreless inning to finish off the win for New York.
The Yankees now sit at 49-40 on the year and hold a 4 1/2 game lead in the American League East.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Royals 4, White Sox 2; Royals 0, White Sox 2
Mariners 3, Yankees 4
Marlins 3, Phillies 6
Cubs 2, Braves 4
Rays 2, Blue Jays 6
Cubs 2, Braves 4
Indians 1, Reds 6
Pirates 1, Brewers 4
Orioles 3, Tigers 7
Mets 2, Cardinals 3
Tigers 2, Astros 3
Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5 (12 innings)
Red Sox 0, Angels 1
Rockies 2, Padres 4
Twins 5, Athletics 0
Dodgers/Nationals – suspended
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.