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MLB: Yankees turn to ace Gerrit Cole against Red Sox

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A week ago, Gerrit Cole talked manager Aaron Boone out of taking him out of a 1-0 game against the Houston Astros.

It’s amazing how things can change in a week.

Cole will take the mound with a significantly different defense behind him Saturday night when the New York Yankees continue a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Cole (9-4, 2.68 ERA) will pitch for the first time since throwing 129 pitches in his third career complete-game shutout in that 1-0 win over the Astros. Cole allowed three hits, struck out 12 and walked two in his best start of the season after struggling through 3 1/3 innings July 4 against the New York Mets and allowing three homers in five innings June 27 in Boston.

The Yankees lost both games.

This time, he will pitch without Aaron Judge in right field, Gio Urshela at third base and Luke Voit at first base. Judge and Urshela were among six Yankees players with positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday, while Voit landed on the injured list for a third time this season. He has inflammation in his left knee.

“Whether you have super-talented players or not, at some point you’re going to have to persevere through what the game has thrown at you,” Cole said Friday afternoon.

Cole is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in seven career starts against the Red Sox, who lead the season series 7-0 and own a nine-game lead on fourth-place New York in the American League East.

“It’s really important,” Boone said. “Every day is really important right now. Today was important (that) we come out and play well and try to get a W, and that didn’t happen, and now we got our ace going tomorrow. What are we, 90-ish games in? They’re critical. We’re in a hole. We got to play really good baseball to get back into this.”

Boston opened the series with a 4-0 win Friday when Christian Arroyo hit a two-run homer, J.D Martinez hit his 19th homer, and Eduardo Rodriguez and two relievers combined on a three-hitter.

Without three regulars, the remaining regulars — DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez — were a combined 1-for-15 as the Yankees were shut out for the fifth time in 2021. Triple-A call-ups Chris Gittens and Trey Amburgey were a combined 0-for-3.

“I think coming into this series, our mindset was to win the series,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It (stinks) that they have to go through this. I know what Boonie’s going through with the roster, and it really (stinks).

“It’s not about competition, it’s about human beings, and we’re going through a pandemic and it’s hard on everybody.”

The Red Sox will look for another strong performance from their starter on Saturday when Nathan Eovaldi (9-5, 3.66 ERA) takes the mound against his former teammates. He enters the game first in the AL in home runs per nine innings (0.44) and third in walks per nine innings (1.74).

Eovaldi is 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in his past nine starts, including two wins over the Yankees. On June 4 in New York, he allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits in six innings of a 5-2 victory, and on June 26 in Boston, he gave up one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings of a 4-2 win.

The All-Star right-hander is coming off one of his worst starts of the season as he allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on July 6.

Eovaldi, who won 23 games total for the Yankees in 2015 and 2016, is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 11 career appearances (eight starts) against New York.

–Field Level Media

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