Gerrit Cole says emotional return from elbow injury in season debut for Yankees was ‘a special game’

NEW YORK (AP) — Even without Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees built the best record in the majors through 75 games this season.

Now their No. 1 starter is back — and eager to pitch in.

Returning to the mound from an elbow injury, Cole was charged with two runs over four-plus innings Wednesday night against rival Baltimore in his long-awaited 2024 debut. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner got a no-decision as the Yankees lost 7-6 in 10 innings.

“It was kind of a special game for me a little bit,” Cole said. “It’s just been a long few months, a lot of emotions.”

New York manager Aaron Boone said Cole was on a limit of 65 pitches. He was pulled after 62, when he gave up Cedric Mullins’ leadoff single in the fifth.

“I thought he got better as he went,” Boone said. “I thought he was under control and I thought as the outing went on, he got a little bit better, and had a little bit of everything. Got a strikeout with the breaking ball, flashed a good slider for a strikeout. I thought the cutter was a good pitch for him all night. Reached back for some heaters that he executed as well.

“So all in all, I thought he threw the ball well.”

Yankees starters have thrown at least four innings in all 76 games this year, an encouraging streak not lost on Cole even while he was sidelined.

“I held up my end of the bargain,” he said with a smile, drawing laughs.

Cole said he felt “a fair amount of adrenaline.” The 33-year-old right-hander permitted three hits, struck out five and walked one.

He was on the hook for his first loss since Aug. 19 last year until the Yankees erased a 5-1 deficit and tied it in the ninth.

“I think the location was good. It felt like the pitches were crisp,” Cole said. “The consistency probably has to progress, as well as the pitch count.”

Cole made three minor league rehab starts after recovering from nerve inflammation and edema in his right elbow that had sidelined him since spring training.

“I thought he threw the ball very well. Very excited to have him back,” catcher Jose Trevino said. “I thought he was really good.”



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