TAMPA, Fla. – Yankees ace Gerrit Cole felt his first spring training start was better than his pitching line.
Cole allowed four runs and four hits with five strikeouts and a walk over two-plus innings in New York’s 7-4 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
The right-hander gave up homers to Diego Castillo and Cole Tucker.
“Well, I thought that stuff was pretty good,” Cole said. “When we made good pitches, we got good results. So, I think the amount of first-pitch strikes was too low and there was a handful counts that I fell behind in. I was just wide a few times. So those kind of culminated into being behind a little bit more than I want it to be today.”
Cole, coming off a pair of simulated games, threw 29 of 50 pitches for strikes. The expected opening day starter April 7 against Boston will pitch one more time at spring training.
“I liked what I saw,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I was really pleased with his stuff, the quality of his fastball. Didn’t have the strike throwing down exactly or the command dialed-in exactly how he’s going to. I thought delivery-wise he was real smooth. Got his work load up but I thought it was a good day of work for him.”
Cole went 16-8 with a 3.23 ERA in 30 starts last season, but was losing pitcher after allowing three runs over two innings in a 6-2 loss to the Red Sox in the AL wild-card game. He was slowed late in the year by a left hamstring injury.