NEW YORK – Much was amiss in Gerrit Cole's first year with the New York Yankees.
With his second season in the Bronx closer to normal, he spent all night making bats miss.
Cole struck out 13 and walked none over seven scoreless innings, overwhelming the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 Tuesday night for his first win this season.
“Definitely more comfortable," Cole said. “Certainly, just teammates-wise, socially wise, it’s been a lot easier than inserting yourself into a new team, into the environment that we had last year and a more normal setting, more normal season, people in the stands.”
Cole was 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts last year after the Yankees made him baseball's highest-paid pitcher with a $324 million, nine-year contract.
“Last year was weird and hard and difficult on so many different levels for everybody,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Gerrit is more comfortable now knowing everyone in the organization, knowing his pitching coach and where to go for information and his teammates."
Cole (1-0) allowed four hits, three of them singles. J ay Bruce backed him with his first Yankees home run, a solo shot in the second off Dean Kremer (0-1) that was a Yankee Stadium special of 354 feet into the right-field short porch. Aaron Judge added a three-run homer against Wade LeBlanc in the eighth.
New York has won 12 straight home games against the Orioles since May 2019, tying the Yankees' mark vs. the old St. Louis Browns in 1926-27 and outscoring Baltimore 76-30. New York moved above .500 for first time this year at 3-2.
Pitching with long sleeves on a night with a gametime temperature of 68, Cole threw 71 of 97 pitches for strikes. The 30-year-old right-hander induced 23 swinging strikes and got 17 called strikes from plate umpire Marty Foster.
He warmed up to the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” and the Orioles could find none. Cole got stronger as the night went on, throwing at up to 100.5 mph and retiring his last 12 batters. He mixed 40 fastballs with 23 sliders, 21 knuckle-curves and 14 changeups.
"When you punch a guy out to end the inning and the fans go wild, I definitely missed that probably more than anything," catcher Kyle Higashioka said.
Cole’s was just the seventh start for the Yankees of seven shutout innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks: Mike Mussina did it against Boston and Baltimore in September 2001, and Ron Guidry (1984), John Candelaria (1988), David Wells (1998) and Masahiro Tanaka (2017) accomplished it once each. He became the first Yankees pitcher to strike out seven batters in 11 straight regular-season starts.
After Gary Sánchez started the first four games, Higashioka caught Cole, as he did during last year’s playoffs.
"I'm comfortable with both guys, but Higgy and him definitely have a good kind of thing going and a yin and a yang," Boone said.
Bruce saved a run in the first, throwing out speedy Cedric Mullins trying to score from third after backhand grab on Anthony Santander’s one-hopper with the infield in.
“Besides that, we didn’t square many balls up on him the rest of the night,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Kremer got hit on a leg by Judge's 110-mph comebacker in the first and allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in three-plus innings.
Adam Plutko, teammates with Cole and Trevor Bauer at UCLA in 2011, gave up DJ LeMahieu’s run-scoring double-play grounder and Judge’s RBI single. Giancarlo Stanton added an RBI double in the seventh off Tyler Wells.
Infielder Rougned Odor was acquired by the Yankees for minor league outfielders Antonio Cabello and Josh Stowers. The 27-year-old Odor did not make the Rangers’ opening-day roster and was designated for assignment on April 1. He is a left-handed hitter, and the Yankees have a mostly right-handed lineup. Texas will pay the Yankees $11,060,806 this year to cover all but a prorated share of the $570,500 minimum and all but the 2022 minimum, which is still to be negotiated. Odor will cost nothing to the Yankees for purposes of the luxury tax. New York optioned right-hander Michael King to the alternate training site and designated infielder Thairo Estrada for assignment.
Yankees: LHP Justin Wilson (shoulder soreness) threw 22 pitches and could be activated this weekend.
RHP Jameson Taillon starts Wednesday’s series finale in his first major league appearance since May 1, 2019, with Pittsburgh after recovering from his second Tommy John surgery that Aug. 13. Taillon and Cole were teammates in Pittsburgh in 2016-17. LHP John Means (1-0) starts for Baltimore after allowing one hit in seven scoreless innings at Boston. “It’s going to be special,” Cole said. ”We’ll put the emotions aside and just try to get after the Orioles first and hopefully have a bourbon or two on the plane if it’s a good day. And maybe three or four if it’s a bad day.”
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