Gerrit Cole attempts to help Yankees end problems vs. Red Sox

Gerrit Cole’s first two outings after a lengthy rehab from an elbow injury featured some uncharacteristic struggles.

His third outing was a step in the right direction and the struggling Yankees are hoping to witness continued progress from their ace when Cole faces the visiting Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon.

Cole (1-1, 6.23 ERA) will pitch after the Yankees fell to 4-14 in their past 18 games with their 5-3 loss on Friday. The Yankees were one strike away from winning but saw their losing streak reach four when Masataka Yoshida hit a tying homer off Clay Holmes and rookie Ceddanne Rafaela hit a tiebreaking homer to open the 10th off Tommy Kahnle.

“It’s a difficult time,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after New York’s fifth straight home loss. “You got to dig down and it’s a quick turnaround tomorrow, get ready to play and find out what we’re made of.”

After three rehab starts from the injury sustained in spring training, Cole returned and pitched four-plus innings, throwing 62 pitches, in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on June 19. He followed that by throwing 72 pitches against the New York Mets on June 25 when he allowed six runs and seven hits, including four homers, with no strikeouts in four innings of a 9-7 loss.

On Sunday, Cole was back to being himself when he allowed one run on three hits in five innings during an 8-1 win at Toronto. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner also saw his pitch count bumped up to 90.

“I thought it was a good blend of stuff and command,” Cole said. “I pitched pretty smart for the most part, so it was a good day. There was a pretty conscious effort to hone in the command a little bit, making sure we’re giving ourselves a chance over the plate. That’s part of the buildup process.”

Cole is 7-5 with a 4.68 ERA in 17 career starts against the Red Sox. Since joining the Yankees as a free agent after the 2019 season, the right-hander is 5-4 with a 5.16 ERA in 12 starts and has particularly struggled against Rafael Devers, who is 12-for-38 (.316) with seven homers and 17 RBIs in their previous matchups.

The Red Sox are 13-4 and on a five-game winning streak after the comeback. Boston also is 11-4 in the past 15 meetings with the Yankees and 10-1 in its past 11 road games.

“It’s always special to come here and win games,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We know where we’re at in the standings. Like I said last week, let’s not settle. Let’s keep pushing and see where it takes us.”

Josh Winckowski (2-1, 2.80) will make his 20th career start and the Red Sox are hoping it goes as well as last weekend. He allowed four hits and threw 58 pitches in five innings of a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Winckowski is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against the Yankees.

–Field Level Media