One day after scoring six runs in the first inning and cruising to a victory, the Dodgers had their hands full with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who looked every bit like the pitcher who’s finished top-four in Cy Young Award voting five times.
Cole struck out five in his six innings.
What chances the Dodgers did have against Cole they couldn’t capitalize on. Miguel Rojas was caught stealing second base with Mookie Betts at the plate in the fifth inning, for instance, but Betts struck out anyway, because Cole is that good.
Two fly Dodgers balls highlighted Cole’s outing. The first a pop fly by David Peralta into no man’s land behind third base down the left field line that somehow fell between three Yankees. It was scored an RBI single, with Jason Heyward — who was hit by a pitch — scored all the way from first on the two out hit.
In the fourth inning, Will Smith singled and Max Muncy walked, putting two runners on with nobody out. After J.D. Martinez lined out to center to advance Smith to third base, Heyward popped out in foul ground behind third, and in frustration slammed his bat on the ground before breaking it in two over his knee on the way back to the dugout.
Cole was pulled after just 80 pitches, his lowest total of the season, leaving after six innings with cramping, according to Ken Rosenthal on the Fox broadcast. That opened the door for a rally in the seventh, when three consecutive right-handed pinch-hitters reached base against southpaw reliever Wandy Peralta.
Chris Taylor singled, then Miguel Vargas tripled into the left field corner, a ball that had amazing English as it scooted away from Oswaldo Cabrera. Trayce Thompson walked, ending Peralta’s day.
Miguel Rojas singled home Vargas to pull the Dodgers within two runs, but the top of the lineup couldn’t bring home the other two on base against right-hander Michael King.
Michael Grove’s stuff looked as good as ever in his first start off the injured list, touching 98 mph and averaging 96.4 mph on his fastball, two ticks above his career average. He walked nobody and missed bats with the fastball and slider in his five innings, striking out seven and inducing 13 swinging strikes, both career highs.
But one bat he didn’t miss was Jake Bauers, who hit two-run home runs off Grove in both the second and fourth innings. It was the first career two-homer game for Bauers, who entered Saturday with a .352 career slugging percentage.
The Yankees’ second home run came from a more expected source, when Aaron Judge took reliever Shelby Miller deep in the sixth. The solo shot was Judge’s 19th home run of the season, which leads the American League.
When Judge isn’t busy hitting baseballs over walls, he sometimes does damage to the walls themselves. Like when he crashed into the visiting bullpen gate in right field while robbing J.D. Martinez of extra bases in the eighth inning, dislodging the gate.
Muncy, who was on first base after reaching on a strikeout and passed ball, was awarded second base because Judge went out of play while making the catch.
In the top of the eighth, the just-called-up Tayler Scott made his Dodgers debut, but was inserted in Thompson’s spot in the batting order. Martinez moved from designated hitter to left field, his first time playing in the field during a major league game since October 3, 2021.
Martinez did play left field twice this spring training, but otherwise has played only designated hitter this season.
Scott pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings, throwing 32 pitches. He was pulled with two outs in the eighth inning in favor of Victor González, who promptly served up an insurance homer by Cabrera, the Yankees’ fourth long ball of the day.
Home runs: Jake Bauers 2 (5), Aaron Judge (19), Oswaldo Cabrera (4)
WP — Gerrit Cole (7-0): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP — Michael Grove (1-1): 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 7 strikeouts
Sv — Clay Homes (6): 1 IP, 1 walk
The Dodgers go for the series win on Sunday evening (4:08 p.m., ESPN), with Bobby Miller making his third major league start after winning his first two. Right-hander Domingo Germán starts for the Yankees.