The last time the New York Yankees were scheduled to face the Los Angeles Angels, they were coming off a disastrous ninth inning. This time they will face Angels with their ace coming off a bout with COVID-19.
Gerrit Cole will be on the mound Monday night at Yankee Stadium when the Yankees host the Los Angeles Angels in a makeup game.
The game is a makeup from July 1, the day after Aroldis Chapman contributed to blowing a four-run lead in the rain by allowing a grand slam to Jared Walsh when the Angels scored seven times in the ninth for an 11-8 victory that concluded after 1 a.m. The Yankees were slated to face the Angels for an afternoon game that got rained out on the same day managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner put the onus on players for underperforming.
Over a month later, the Yankees are in the thick of the AL wild-card race and 24-11 since Cole got booed by fans for not being able to get out of the fourth inning against the New York Mets on July 4. They are in the thick of the race despite placing 11 players on the COVID-19 injured list since the All-Star break.
Cole (10-6, 3.11 ERA) will return after being out for two weeks. He is pitching for the first time since allowing eight runs (seven earned) in a 14-0 loss at Tampa Bay on July 29, the day before Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo joined the Yankees.
“I’m feeling good, ready to go,” Cole said. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I don’t think we’ll push the limits by any means because the recovery will be important, but I’m ready to pitch.”
On Sunday, Cole said he experienced some mild symptoms and weight loss. He also added it is unclear how he contracted the virus, which has also sidelined Gary Sanchez, Jordan Montgomery, Clay Holmes and Rizzo in the past two weeks.
Without Cole, the Yankees won nine of 12 games, including Sunday when they held on for a 5-3 win over the host Chicago White Sox.
“We’re playing good baseball, but we still feel like we can play just a little bit better. Now we’re just looking for the final piece to push it over the edge and really get white-hot here.”
Cole is returning after consecutive losses at Boston and Tampa Bay and is pitching at home for the first time since getting 11 strikeouts and pitching a five-hitter in a rain-shortened 3-1 win over Boston on July 17.
Cole is 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels, who will fly to Detroit after Monday.
The Angels are 3-6 in their past nine games but open a 10-game road trip after getting a 3-1 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday. David Fletcher and Jo Adell had RBI groundouts before Phil Gosselin hit a late homer.
Shohei Ohtani had two hits and has gotten a hit in each of his six games out of the leadoff spot.
“Every time we put somebody up there, they do well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of moving Ohtani to leadoff. “He’s getting his stroke back.”
Jose Suarez (5-5, 3.90), who will start for Los Angeles, has been in the rotation since pitching 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in relief of Dylan Bundy on June 28 against the Yankees.
Suarez, who is 2-4 with a 5.79 ERA in six starts, last pitched Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays when he allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. For his career, he is 1-0 with a 7.88 ERA in two games against the Yankees, including that June 28 relief appearance.
–Field Level Media