Yankees: Everything clicked for the Cole – Higashioka battery

Andres Chavez

After a successful showing last season, the Gerrit Cole – Kyle Higashioka battery paid huge dividends to the New York Yankees once again on Monday, as the two players were the main reason the team pulled out a narrow 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone doesn’t want to commit to Higgy as Cole’s personal catcher, but he did say the pairing will work together a lot. And it’s hard not to see future pairings down the road, as after a rocky beginning, Cole retired the final 15 Blue Jays he faced en route to the victory.

Higashioka, the Yankees’ backup catcher behind Gary Sanchez, hit two homers and was basically the entire offense last night.

“I think he’s just a great pitcher,” Higashioka told MLB.com. “Every time he goes out there, he mentally and physically prepares 100 percent, so you know you’re getting his best effort no matter what. That makes our job as catchers easy.”

The Yankees’ highly successful tandem

Cole has pitched nine games (all starts, of course) to Higashioka in his career. In those contests, the Yankees’ ace has a 1.52 ERA, and that includes playoffs.

“He’s going to catch him a lot,” Boone said of Higashioka. “I like it because it usually lines up with wanting to give Gary a day. There’s going to be days where Gary catches him, but as the schedule unfolds, a lot of times it’s going to work out that it makes sense to get Higgy in there.”

Cole pitched six frames and allowed only one run and a walk, with eight strikeouts. “They were on it tonight, so I wasn’t afforded the ability to take any pitches off,” said Cole, who threw 42 pitches in the first two innings. “It was a bit of a tightrope walk early. You just try to keep the blinders on and focus on what we’re doing, and try to keep improving throughout the game.”

As for Higgy, the Yankees’ skipper was impressed with his power display.

“We know about his power,” Boone said. “He demonstrated that last year. I thought he was great behind the plate tonight, and obviously we needed every bit of it.”