Yankees' Aaron Boone, Gerrit Cole reflect on ace's shutout against his former Astros

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Cole pitching in HOU
Cole pitching in HOU

When Gerrit Cole held his introductory press conference after signing with the Yankees, he said "pressure is a privilege."

He got what he signed up for - in his return to Houston, Cole tossed a shutout in 129 pitches - his career-high and the most by any pitcher in MLB this year - while striking out 12.

"We needed a win, we were shorthanded today in the pen, had a good feel, situation kinda lined up that I could go deep," Cole said after the win. "Somebody asked this yesterday, how important the games were. They’re pretty important right now, especially against a good team, and they’re only getting more important as we keep going forward, so we’re just trying to take a good mentality game by game.”

Aaron Boone made a shocking revelation, though: he wasn't even sure if Cole would start today, as he was under the weather and had IVs in Seattle. Cole added that even as early as 36 hours ago, he wasn't sure if he'd start, as the last couple of days had been "kind of miserable" and "gross."

Boone and Cole expected the ace's outing to be short. But they had no other choice.

“I think just the situation. Chad [Green]’s not available, [Jonathan Loaisiga]'s not available. Got a good feel for the guys, got deep enough to where it’s kind of like we already blew past the workload algorithm in the seventh, so might as well just go with what’s working at that point...

"Surprised me to a certain extent, but at the same time, when you get deeper and deeper into these things and it’s tight like this, there’s just a natural reaction to the adrenaline that just comes with the moment.”

In the top of the ninth and two outs, Boone came to the mound to "take [Cole's] temperature." Cole was clearly animated about staying in the game, even with Aroldis Chapman warming up.

But Cole wasn't going anywhere.

“I think he was just, you know, wanted it. It was, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go.’ And I wasn’t going out there for sure to take him out, I just wanted to take his temperature a little bit, see where he was at, give him a breather, and kinda just weigh it a little bit," Boone said. "There was no question he wanted it. We just kinda settled on ‘you got one more hitter, and leave it all out here.’"

Regarding the meeting, Cole said he had some NSFW language to his manager.

“I said the F word a lot, and I kind of just blacked out. I don’t really remember what I told him, to be honest," Cole said.

“He was fired up, but I also thought very much under control. And I thought he did a great job of that, especially the later the game got, and obviously the bigger the situation continues to be towards the end there. While I thought he was intense and fired up, he was very much in command of his emotions.”

Boone did say that Yordan Alvarez "was his last hitter, no doubt about it.”

129 pitches would be startling even 20 years ago, let alone today.

But as previously mentioned, Boone knew that this was the best route.

“I felt good about the number as a threshold and being comfortable pushing him to that number," Boone said. "Obviously rarely do we do that, and he’d never been to that number in his career, but just our situation right now. I felt like he was physically and mentally sound and in the moment, and just felt like he was our best chance to get through that in the end.”

"That's about as special as it gets," Boone added.

Of course, Cole has been under tons of scrutiny since the sticky substance crackdown. In his previous nine outing, he was sporting a 4.47 ERA. In his last six? 5.24.

But Cole didn't think he proved, or had to prove, anything on Saturday.

“Look at my career track record, and look at my numbers..." he said. "I wasn’t really out there to prove anything, just do my job.

The Yankees will go for the sweep against the Astros on Sunday at 2:!0 p.m. in Houston.