Gerrit Cole's first taste of the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is also an opportunity for him to get into the rarified air of pitchers to win 20 straight decisions.
Cole can become the sixth pitcher to win 20 straight decisions Friday night when the Yankees host the RedSox in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
If Cole gets a 20th straight victory, he will join Carl Hubbell, Roy Face, Jake Arrieta, Roger Clemens and Rube Marquard as the only pitchers to win at least 20 straight decisions. Hubbell holds the record of 24 from July 17, 1936-May 27, 1937 with the New York Giants, and the last pitcher to win 20 straight was Jake Arrieta from Aug. 4, 2015-May 25, 2016 with the Chicago Cubs.
Cole's last defeat was May 22, 2019. Since then, he is 19-0 with 1.97 ERA in his last 26 starts, including 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA in four starts with the Yankees.
During his streak, Cole has 252 strikeouts, and he nearly got another win in the first game of last Saturday's doubleheader at Tampa Bay. In New York's 8-4 win, he allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts but threw 107 pitches and was one out shy from qualifying for a win.
"Good and bad," Cole said of his outing. "I thought the fastball location was improved. Obviously the pitch count got up there and wasn't able to finish the outing the way we wanted to. But there was some kind of improvement across the board, so I will try and take that."
Cole is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox.
The Yankees enter on a six-game winning streak against Boston, are 11-1 in the past 12 meetings and 11-1 in the past 12 home meetings since the start of the 2019 season.
New York may play Friday's game without Aaron Judge, who is dealing with some lower-body tightness. Judge was pulled in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 9-6 win over the Atlanta Braves after hitting his ninth homer and then did not play Wednesday.
"He is just dealing with lower-body tightness that we are hoping to get out ahead of and prevent an injury moving forward," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Without Judge, the Yankees improved to 6-0 at home with a 6-3 win over Atlanta. Clint Frazier replaced Judge in right field and was productive with a homer and three hits.
DJ LeMahieu also had four hits and leads the American League by a wide margin with a .431 average.
The Red Sox own a 5.60 ERA and will start the series with a bullpen game, something they did Aug. 2 in a 9-7 loss at New York when Austin Brice was the opener.
Boston enters Friday on a four-game losing streak and with six losses in its last nine games since the last meeting with the Yankees.
"We're just going through a bad a point and we keep talking about how we need to turn it around and we're not doing that," Boston manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Red Sox got only two innings from Kyle Hart and used seven pitchers, including position players Jose Peraza and Kevin Plawecki in a 17-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox gave Xander Bogaerts Thursday off due to some fatigue in his lower half. Bogaerts is hitting .293 with three homers and 10 RBIs so far and is expected to play Friday.
--Field Level Media