Gerrit Cole gets the best of Josh Donaldson

MINNEAPOLIS – Very briefly, Gerrit Cole watched Josh Donaldson, a player he had struck out in each of his first two at bat on Wednesday night.

Over the weekend, Donaldson, a third baseman for the Minnesota Twins, obliquely accused Cole, the Yankees’ spinning ace, of using sticky substances to increase the spin speed of his throws in order to make them more efficient. On Wednesday, facing the superstar pitcher he had accused, Donaldson appeared outclassed.

After his first strikeout, he had screamed in frustration after beating a high ball. After the second he said something to home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott before walking away. On Donaldson’s third at bat, as he flew to right field early in the sixth inning, Cole watched Donaldson as he ran for first base.

Donaldson didn’t look at Cole this time either.

On a sweltering night at Target Field, Cole had the final say, allowing two runs in six innings and striking out nine in a 9-6 Yankees win.

Cole’s fastball and four-seam slider spin rates fell slightly below his season averages for a second straight start, although his curve was spinning slightly faster than normal, according to the Baseball Savant website. . But unlike his last start, when he allowed five points, a season-high in a loss at Tampa Bay, Cole pitched effectively against the Twins.

His speed was up – his sixth pitch of the night, against Donaldson, topped 100 mph – and the last-place Twins only had five hits against him. The solo circuits of Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano were the origin of the two points allowed by Cole.

“I just thought he was very focused like he always does, blocking out all the noise, going out, running and throwing,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

The tense pitcher-batter game came four days after Donaldson wondered aloud to reporters if it was a coincidence that Cole’s turnover rates plummeted after four minor leaguers were given a 10-month suspension. matches for illegal use of sticky substances on baseballs. (Cole attributed his poor performance to poor mechanics.)

Donaldson said on Wednesday he didn’t regret speaking out, adding that he didn’t believe Cole was the only offender.

“He was the first guy to pitch since the suspensions came in, and he’s the first guy that you could see the turnover rates drop,” said Donaldson. “There were 12 guys whose turnover rates fell last week. So it’s not just Gerrit Cole. “

Increased rotation changes the plane and movement of the throws, making them more difficult to hit. Throughout baseball history, pitchers have used a variety of substances to better grip baseball, an illegal but often overlooked process. There is a growing belief that the recent dominance of launchers can be partially attributed to the widespread use of substances like Spider Tack, a sticky paste that can allow launchers to dramatically increase their spin speed.

Cole’s turnover rates increased significantly from 2017 to 2019, when he won a career-high 20 games with the Houston Astros. In an awkward press conference on Tuesday, Cole did not respond if he had ever used Spider Tack.

“I was hesitant about the specificity of the question because I don’t think this is the forum to discuss this stuff,” Cole said Wednesday. “There is an appropriate time for the players to discuss these things. I will keep it on this forum. “

Cole’s fastball averaged 98.2 mph on Wednesday night, just above his season average. He wouldn’t admit any additional satisfaction in knocking out Donaldson twice. Cole’s 113 strikeouts this season are the largest in 13 starts in club history, surpassing Al Downing’s 104 in 1963.

Cole, now 7-3, added that he had not spoken to Donaldson about his comments.

“I don’t see the need for it; I’m fine, ”he said. “But if he has anything more to say, he’s welcome to reach out or whatever.”

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