Gerrit Cole held the distinction of leading the major leagues in strikeouts while also allowing the second-most home runs last season.
This season, Cole is off to one of the best starts of his career, partially due to his ability to avoid allowing homers. He seeks a fourth straight win Sunday afternoon when the New York Yankees attempt to get a split of a four-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins
Cole (3-0, 1.40 ERA) has won three straight starts to begin a season for the third time in his career (2013, 2020).
Last year, Cole allowed three of his 33 homers and had a 6.35 ERA through his first three outings. So far, Cole has allowed 11 hits -- no HRs -- through his first 19 1/3 innings while beating the San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Guardians.
After getting 19 of his 22 strikeouts in the first two outings, Cole got 10 groundball outs and struck out three over seven innings Tuesday in Cleveland. He allowed two runs in the first inning then retired 19 of the final 23 hitters.
"The stuff was a bit down for whatever reason, especially the fastball," Cole said. "But the breaking balls were good. Then we spotted the fastball when we needed to as the game went on, and I actually thought it got better."
Cole is pitching after New York avoided its first three-game losing streak with Saturday's 6-1 win. Domingo German, who was checked for potential sticky substances three times, retired the first 16 hitters and allowed one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings while Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Rizzo homered.
Cole is 4-0 with a 3.21 ERA in five career starts against the Twins. He struck out 14 in 6 2/3 innings Sept. 7 in New York but also allowed five homers in 2 1/3 innings on June 9 in Minnesota
Minnesota opened the series by getting big performances from Carlos Correa. He homered in the first two games and hit a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning Friday. But Saturday, the Twins struck out a season-high 13 times and scored their lone run on an RBI double by Jose Miranda
Minnesota can still win a series in New York for the first time since taking two of three May 30-June 1, 2014. The Twins last won a four-game series in New York May 23-25, 1969
Pablo Lopez (1-0, 1.35) starts for the Twins. His 26 strikeouts are tied for fourth in the majors with teammate Joe Ryan. Lopez is coming off a 10-strikeout showing when he pitched 7 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday
Lopez started slowly Tuesday when the first four batters reached. He then retired the final 23 hitters and recorded his third career double-digit strikeout game.
"After the first four, I think the mindset changed a little," Lopez said. "I think after that, we realized things that we can do different, things that can actually work, and we started using a different approach with the changeup."
Lopez's only previous start against the Yankees occurred Aug. 21, 2018, when he was with the Miami Marlins. He allowed one run on seven hits in six innings of a no-decision
--Field Level Media