Yankees: Gerrit Cole says fastball command failed him against Tampa Bay

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees had the opportunity to win the series against the Tampa Bay Rays in convincing fashion on Thursday, but they had to settle for a tie, as their division rivals took the last contest of the four-game set.

Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ starter for the day, clearly didn’t have his best command. To be more specific, he had trouble commanding his fastball up in the zone, which is one of his primary weapons and the one pitch that set up his amazing secondaries.

Tampa ended up winning 9-2, and Cole’s constant misses up in the zone, together with some questionable decisions by home plate umpire Chad Whitson, were too much to overcome for the Yankees.

Cole said to Jordan Horrobin of MLB.com that he misplaced “noncompetitive” pitches.

“If I remember [in my last start] in [St. Petersburg], we were rifling balls at the top of the strike zone all day,” Cole said. “And today (yesterday) we were up about six or seven inches, or we were in spots where we could’ve grabbed the count to go to our leverage, or pressured with two strikes.”

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing balls and strikes

The inability to control his fastball prompted Cole to go away from the pitch, as he used it much less frequently than usual, at 43.4 percent of the time. Without his usual diet of heaters, the Rays could do a better job anticipating the secondaries.

Whitson’s judgment of the strike zone got Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone ejected in the seventh frame, but Cole was concerned with what he can control.

“There were too many fastballs above the zone that had an opportunity to press the corners,” Cole said. “Commanding that better, maybe, doesn’t make some of the questionable calls quite so magnified.”

All in all, the Yankees’ ace allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in five frames, with seven strikeouts.

“[I’m] frustrated that we didn’t go out and get it done today,” Boone said. “But you also have to get past it right now and know we’ve got a big one starting this weekend.”

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