Home Sports Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitches 4 strong innings vs. Orioles in 2024 debut following elbow injury

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitches 4 strong innings vs. Orioles in 2024 debut following elbow injury

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Gerrit Cole struck out five in four innings against the Orioles in his 2024 debut. (Luke Hales/Getty Images)

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole made a strong return from an elbow injury in a shortened outing Wednesday in his 2024 debut.

The Baltimore Orioles took a 3-1 lead after he was pulled in the fifth inning. But the Yankees, who built the American League’s best record without the services of their best pitcher, are now stronger with Cole’s return and can feel good about their first effort of the season against major league hitters.

Cole pitched four innings, allowing three hits, one walk and two earned runs and recorded five strikeouts. His four-seam fastball peaked at 97 mph, a touch higher than his average fastball speed of 96.7 mph in 2023.

He threw 61 pitches in four innings of one-run baseball and then returned for the fifth. He gave up a first-pitch single to Cedric Mullins and his day was over after 62 pitches.

Manager Aaron Boone played it safe with his ace and replaced him with reliever Ron Marinaccio. Marinaccio gave up a home run to Ramón Urías in the next at-bat, and Cole gave up his second earned run of the night to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Cole wasn’t happy about being pulled or the Orioles taking the lead, but there was a lot to like about his first start of 2024.

Cole started the night by allowing a double to Gunnar Henderson. Second baseman Gleyber Torres had a chance to make a play, but the ball bounced off his glove into right field, allowing Henderson to reach second base. Henderson recovered and scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s two-out double.

Cole finished his first inning with 10 strikes on 13 pitches and allowed two hits and one earned run. He then settled in.

Cole made quick work of the team in a 1-2-3 second inning that required seven pitches. He led off the third with his first strikeout of the season. Jorge Mateo swung and missed on a cutter off the plate.

He then walked Henderson on eight pitches for his first and only free pass of the night. Two more strikeouts concluded the third. He sat Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle on strikes during a three-strikeout inning to complete his second turn atop the Orioles’ order.

Cole then cruised through the fourth inning with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning. After inducing an opening lineout from O’Hearn, he retired Anthony Santander and Colton Cowser by swinging 96 mph fastballs at the top of the zone.

He then returned briefly for the fifth, when he was retired after his first pitch.

Cole began this season on the disabled list after experiencing nerve inflammation and swelling in his throwing elbow. She avoided Tommy John surgery and has been preparing for rehab starts in recent weeks. The Yankees recalled him for Wednesday’s game after he recorded 19 strikeouts and zero walks in 12 1/3 innings in three minor league rehab starts.

Barring any setbacks, he’s now back in the rotation and should see his pitch count gradually increase as the Yankees set their sights on the American League crown and beyond.

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