Home Sports Gerrit Cole and offense propel Yankees to key sweep of Orioles

Gerrit Cole and offense propel Yankees to key sweep of Orioles

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Maybe falling to .500 on Tuesday was rock bottom for the Yankees.

Since a five-game losing streak left them clinging to a postseason spot, they have won three straight, including a sweep of Friday’s doubleheader over the Orioles in The Bronx.

In the process, they got a glimpse of the Gerrit Cole they expected when they signed the right-hander in December — and a reminder of how productive their lineup can be.

Cole was superb in a 6-0, seven-inning win in the opener, and Masahiro Tanaka was nearly as good in the second game, a 10-1, seven-inning romp, highlighted by a pair of three-run homers from Luke Voit.

The Yankees’ performance Friday was far different than when they dropped three of four to the Orioles last week at Camden Yards.

After losing his previous three outings, Cole took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He didn’t allow a hit until Hanser Alberto singled to right with two outs in the top of the fifth.

By then, the Yankees’ offense had given Cole a five-run lead, backed by three homers in the first two innings against Alex Cobb.

Gerrit Cole and Luke Voit celebrating with Gary Sanchez after hitting a homer in Game 2Robert Sabo (2)

The lineup was just as generous to Tanaka in the second game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first off lefty Keegan Akin, who shut them down in his previous start.

Miguel Andujar’s first-inning two-run double keyed the Yankees’ fast start and Voit added three-run homers in the fourth and fifth.

After the first game, Cole said he knew he had to pitch aggressively with the early lead.

“You don’t really have an option,’’ Cole said. “When you get that kind of run support, that’s your job.”

Unlike in some of his other outings, Cole left nothing to doubt, pitching all seven innings with 114 pitches. He allowed just two hits and a walk, while striking out nine.

“I finished it out this time,’’ Cole said.

Now, the Yankees have to finish out the regular season.

They entered Friday just 1½ games up on the Orioles for third place in the AL East.

DJ LeMahieu opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with his fourth leadoff homer of the season. Voit followed with a single through the right side of the infield to bring up Brett Gardner, hitless in his previous 14 at-bats. Gardner homered to make it 3-0 three batters into the game.

Kyle Higashioka’s two-run shot in the second was the Yankees’ third homer of the afternoon and gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Cole was excellent.

The only Oriole to reach base prior to Alberto’s single was Ryan Mountcastle, who got on twice.

The first came on a throwing error by LeMahieu at third base to start the second inning. Mountcastle also drew a two-out walk in the fourth.

It was Cole’s second consecutive outing with Higashioka behind the plate. In the last start, Cole gave up five runs — only one earned — in six innings.

Afterward, Aaron Boone said he would consider keeping the two together for Cole’s next start.

“I thought they were great,’’ Boone said of the duo. “They were on a really good page together. That could be in play. It could be something we talk about, but also the relationship and rapport [Cole] has with Gary [Sanchez] is really good, as well.”

Still, Boone liked what he saw from Cole on Friday.

“Certainly, because of the signing and coming in as arguably the best pitcher in the game, I’ve gotten a further look behind the curtain at how much he cares, how much he wants to win and the attention he pays to details,’’ Boone said. “And it was nice to see him go out and absolutely dominate a game from beginning to end.”

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