CLEVELAND – Gerrit Cole didn’t let Cleveland’s fast start rattle him before pitching seven strong innings and Franchy Cordero hit a three-run homer, powering the New York Yankees to an 11-2 win over the Guardians.
Cole (3-0) gave up two runs and three hits in the first inning before locking in and improving to 5-0 against Cleveland over the past two seasons. The right-hander beat the Guardians twice in last year’s AL Division Series.
Cole, who allowed five hits and struck out three, is 10-2 in 13 career starts versus Cleveland.
Cordero’s homer in New York’s five-run third off Hunter Gaddis (0-1) gave Cole a big cushion and helped the Yankees even the series after dropping the opener.
Anthony Rizzo had two RBIs for the Yankees and superstar Aaron Judge extended his on-base streak to 44 games, the second longest in the majors since 2019. It’s the third longest in New York’s storied history since 1941.
Down 2-1, the Yankees teed off in the third on Gaddis, who allowed a leadoff double to DJ LeMahieu and then hurt himself by hitting Rizzo with two strikes and walking Gleyber Torres to load the bases.
Willie Calhoun hit an RBI single and Oswaldo Cabrera delivered a sacrifice fly before Cordero connected for his third homer, a shot to right that gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead.
The Guardians, who managed just two runs off Cole in the playoffs, scored twice on the right-hander in the first – and nothing more.
Relying mostly on his potent fastball, Cole commanded the strike zone and the Guardians. Cleveland only managed to get one runner to second base after the first inning against the 32-year-old.
It started so well for the Guardians as Steven Kwan opened the first with a single off Cole and scooted to third on a hard smash by Andrés Giménez, batting second for the first time this season. José Ramírez followed with an RBI double.
Josh Naylor, whose “rock the baby” gesture toward Cole following a home run in Game 4 in October became a lasting memory of the series, hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
But much like Cleveland’s Shane Bieber did a night earlier, Cole settled in and showed why he’s one of baseball’s best.
James Karinchak‘s chest-pounding celebration Monday was still a topic of conversation a day later.
Cleveland’s reliever escaped an eighth-inning jam by retiring Judge, Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton – New York’s 2-3-4 hitters – to preserve a one-run lead. Karinchak’s animated reaction included almost knocking over catcher Mike Zunino.
While borderline excessive, neither manager found the display offensive.
“It’s funny because I know there’s times I’m probably showing my age and I think, OK, maybe we should tone it down,” said Terry Francona, Cleveland’s 63-year-old manager. “But I actually felt like doing it too when he got through that.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone acknowledged “there’s always a line,” but didn’t think Karinchak crossed it.
“The bottom line is he got three big outs in the middle of our order in a huge spot,” he said. “Everyone wants to be annoyed by certain things or not.”
Yankees: LHP Carlos Rodón (forearm strain) has been slowed by back stiffness in recent days. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and live batting practice Friday. Boone said the team will remain cautious with Rodón, who signed a six-year, $162 million contract with New York in December.
The Yankees will start RHP Clarke Schmidt in the series finale Wednesday. The Guardians are expected to go with RHP Peyton Battenfield to replace Aaron Civale, on the injured list with a strained oblique.