NEW YORK – New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and manager Aaron Boone were both ejected from Friday night’s 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox for arguing with home plate umpire Brian Knight about a called ball that preceded a game-tying home run in the sixth inning.
Cole’s 1-2 throw to Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo – who in replays appeared to be low in the strike zone – was called a ball, and his ensuing throw, a four-seam fastball from 100 mph, was drilled by Verdugo on the right field fence for a three-run homer that tied the game at 4. The right-hander ducked his head and leaned behind the mound as Verdugo took a slow trot around goals.
Cole then retired JD Martinez to end the inning; as he left the mound, he began yelling and pointing angrily at Knight, who quickly waved Cole off. It was the first ejection of Cole’s career – although the five-time All-Star was probably made for the night anyway after 103 pitches
“I thought there were several pitches that were borderline – sometimes they’re 50/50. I’ve done a good job in my career not losing my temper like that,” Cole said. “I’ve been quite a long time without an ejection. So just like emotions get the better of you.”
An exasperated Boone joined in the argument and was also thrown out. It was Boone’s ninth ejection this season, which ESPN Stats & Information research shows is the highest in a season by a manager since Bobby Cox in 2007 (10).
“I felt like something was up with [Yankees catcher Jose Trevino and the umpire] there,” Boone said. “I was obviously a little late going out tonight, so I didn’t want that to happen. [Trevino getting ejected]so I was trying to protect these guys a bit.”
Cole said his pitch to Verdugo that hit the home run “was like the worst pitch in the streak. He, obviously, put a nice swing on it and did what he wanted to do with the pitch.”
The previous pitch, on the other hand, “I got him locked up.”
“I thought it was dotted,” Cole said. “Stuck where we wanted it.”
Verdugo offered a different approach.
“It wasn’t even close,” Verdugo said. “He wants to steal every pitch. He wants his receiver to steal it.”
Cole has now allowed 31 homers this season, the most in the American League and second in all of MLB, behind Josiah Gray of the Washington Nationals.
“I got stung a couple of times, but that’s baseball,” Cole said.
Cole finished the game having recorded eight strikeouts over six innings, giving him 244 for the season – the second most in a single season in Yankees history. He is just four punches away from surpassing Ron Guidry’s franchise mark of 248, set in 1978.
Yankees pinch hitter Harrison Bader walked two out in the eighth and was credited with a stolen base when a wild out attempt by Boston’s Matt Strahm lifted him into third place. Trevino scored the home run tiebreaker on the next pitch. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched two scoreless innings for the win, working around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth.
Aaron Judge was held without a homer for the third straight game, keeping him 60 for the season and one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record.
“He takes good shots, he makes good decisions. It’s coming,” Boone said. “But it’s also a peek behind how great a player he is, that when he’s not kicking the ball out of the stadium he still has a big impact on us.
“With obviously all the noise around it and the excitement around it, it’s understandable that he continues to go out there and put up good at bat after good at bat.”
The Yankees, who took first place, reduced their magic number to five for winning the AL East title.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.