New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole wasn’t really sure what to do when he went unchecked while leaving the mound during the first two innings of his start on Tuesday night.
It was his first appearance on the hill since Major League Baseball’s foreign-substance crackdown that requires umpires to check pitchers for any sticky stuff on their person.
The check finally came in the third inning with nothing found as Cole went on to go seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits with six strikeouts — but his spin rates were down once again.
“I didn’t want to walk past them or be oblivious to the check the first couple of times when there was inevitably no check. So I thought about it a few times,” Cole said. “I don’t think it’s a super comfortable situation for anybody. But it is what it is and maybe we’ll get more comfortable with it going forward.”
Cole himself had a target painted on his back when saying he “didn’t know how to answer” whether or not he used Spider Tack — one of the banned substances — while Twins veteran Josh Donaldson pointed out the ace’s decreased spin rates in recent starts.
But he’s still been effective despite adjustments that come with pitching with only rosin; most notably that drop in spin along with seven straight starts of not having a double-digit strikeout output.
“Just trying to adapt and adjust and obviously with a lot on the line, try to put location first, sequencing first,” Cole said. “When it’s all said and done, we’re just looking to collect outs. If I can get outs on the pitches I anticipate getting an out on, whether it’s via the swing and miss or a ground ball or a fly ball or maybe a great defensive play, I’m not going to be picky in that regard.
“Still definitely adjusting. Those are things we’re targeting because we’ve got to get outs and the adjustment may take a little bit of time.”