After a successful showing last season, the Gerrit Cole â€“ 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.
Yankeesâ€™ manager Aaron Boone doesnâ€™t want to commit to Higgy as Coleâ€™s personal catcher, but he did say the pairing will work together a lot. And itâ€™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 Yankeesâ€™ backup catcher behind Gary Sanchez, hit two homers and was basically the entire offense last night.
â€œI think heâ€™s just a great pitcher,â€ Higashioka told MLB.com. â€œEvery time he goes out there, he mentally and physically prepares 100 percent, so you know youâ€™re getting his best effort no matter what. That makes our job as catchers easy.â€
The Yankeesâ€™ highly successful tandem
Cole has pitched nine games (all starts, of course) to Higashioka in his career. In those contests, the Yankeesâ€™ ace has a 1.52 ERA, and that includes playoffs.
â€œHeâ€™s going to catch him a lot,â€ Boone said of Higashioka. â€œI like it because it usually lines up with wanting to give Gary a day. Thereâ€™s going to be days where Gary catches him, but as the schedule unfolds, a lot of times itâ€™s going to work out that it makes sense to get Higgy in there.â€
Cole pitched six frames and allowed only one run and a walk, with eight strikeouts. â€œThey were on it tonight, so I wasnâ€™t afforded the ability to take any pitches off,â€ said Cole, who threw 42 pitches in the first two innings. â€œIt was a bit of a tightrope walk early. You just try to keep the blinders on and focus on what weâ€™re doing, and try to keep improving throughout the game.â€
As for Higgy, the Yankeesâ€™ skipper was impressed with his power display.
â€œWe know about his power,â€ Boone said. â€œHe demonstrated that last year. I thought he was great behind the plate tonight, and obviously we needed every bit of it.â€