Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees opened an important three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles with a dramatic walk-off win ( ). The Yankees have won five straight games and are now five games behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays, the closest they've been to first place since April 22.
There was some history early in Tuesday's game. Gerrit Cole fanned former Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo in the second inning and became the 87th pitcher with 2,000 career strikeouts. He got there in 1,714 2/3 innings, third fastest all-time. Only Chris Sale (1,626 innings) and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (1,711 1/3 innings) beat Cole to the milestone.
Here is Cole's 2,000th career strikeout:
In terms of games pitched, Cole is also the third fastest to 2,000 strikeouts. He got there in 278 games, behind only Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (262 games) and the great Clayton Kershaw (277 games).
"It's a pretty special accomplishment," Cole said after the game. "... Probably leaving the game tonight more thrilled about how we played as a team as opposed to accomplishing that."
Cole began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and struck out 734 batters in 782 1/3 innings with the team, an 8.4 K/9 that is good but not truly elite. It wasn't until Cole was traded to the Houston Astros and revamped his pitch mix that his strikeout rate exploded. He had a 13.1 K/9 with Houston and is currently running an 11.5 K/9 with the Yankees.
Last season Cole led baseball with 257 strikeouts and set the Yankees franchise single-season strikeout record, surpassing Ron Guidry's 248 strikeouts during his AL Cy Young season in 1978. Cole finished Tuesday's game with exactly 2,000 career strikeouts and 664 strikeouts as a Yankee, already a top 30 mark in franchise history.
Cole is signed through 2028 and would have to average 179 strikeouts per season between now and then to join the 3,000-strikeout club during the life of his contract. Despite the milestone, he was not at his best Tuesday, allowing five runs in five innings plus two batters. Cole is 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA on the season.