Facing an ace like Gerrit Cole typically means opponents must make the most out of limited opportunities. That’s how it went for the Rays on Sunday, as they completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees with a 4-2 victory at Yankee Stadium during which the offense did all its damage in two short spurts and the pitchers outdueled Cole with a committee approach.
The sweep was Tampa Bay’s second in the past three series (of three games or more) at Yankee Stadium, but just its fourth in franchise history. The Rays had just two sweeps in the Bronx from 1998-2019.
Cole, who entered the day with a 1.19 ERA over his previous seven starts, offered the Rays very little breathing room. They struck out 10 times and had an 0-for-13 stretch in the middle of the game, but on either side of that slump, Tampa Bay found enough offense to scratch out a win.
In the third inning, the bottom of the order rolled over for the top, with Nos. 8 and 9 hitters Mike Zuanich and Kevin Kiermaier collecting a pair of singles to start. That put Yandy Díaz in position to score Zunino on his ensuing single, and Kiermaier came around on a sac fly from Manuel Margot two batters later.
Cole cruised from there, using his four-pitch mix to near perfection. He finished the sixth inning at 98 pitches, with nine strikeouts and just the two runs allowed, and remained in the tie game.
Tampa Bay countered the Yankees’ ace with a less traditional rollout of pitchers, and Ryan Yarbrough finally found his groove after moving to a bulk pitcher role. Yarbrough, who is winless in his past 21 starts, earned the victory with five innings of one-run ball after Andrew Kittredge opened for the first 1 2/3 frames.