Gerrit Cole calls Yankees' delay for Billy Crystal first pitch a 'challenge' after rough start

Starting against the Boston Red Sox on opening day is enough of a challenge, but New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had another obstacle in front of him as he took the field: Billy Crystal.

Friday's game against the Boston Red Sox saw some minor and perplexing drama to open the game when Cole was visibly displeased by the delay caused by the legendary actor/comedian and diehard Yankees fan's ceremonial first pitch.

Per's Bryan Hoch, a collection of pregame festivities, culminating in the Crystal first pitch had caused the game to start four minutes later than its scheduled 1:12 p.m. ET first pitch. Cole could be seen shouting from the dugout steps while waiting to take the field:

That conflict presaged a rough start for Cole, who allowed the first four batters to reach base in a three-run first inning for the Red Sox. Cole managed to recover, finishing with three earned runs in four innings with three strikeouts and a walk.

The Yankees would eventually win in extra innings thanks to a walk-off single from Josh Donaldson in his Yankees debut.

Cole acknowledged the slow start after the game:

"Tough settling in. Obviously, the first four pitches were not really competitive, and then honestly got burned on a couple pretty good fastball locations in the first. They put some pretty great swings on it. Fortunately, we were able to settle in after that and give us a chance to win."

When asked about the pregame ceremony delay, Cole had some interesting words for it:

"That was an unforeseen challenge. Festivities got a little away from the schedule."

Starting pitchers, some of them, at least, are well-known for adhering to strict pregame routines, and it seems Cole fits comfortably into that group. Anyway, we now take you back a day ago to what the Yankees had to say about their season.

The 31-year-old Cole is in the third season of his nine-year, $324 million contract, with a 3.11 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings in his first two seasons. He has finished in the top five of Cy Young Award voting both years.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole reacts after giving up three runs in the first inning of an opening day baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Friday, April 8, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Gerrit Cole's third season with the Yankees is off to a rough start. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)