Gerrit Cole strikes out 15 as Yankees snap four-game skid

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Gerrit Cole proved to be the perfect antidote for a four-game losing streak.

Looking to avoid opening September the same way they ended August, the Yankees turned to Cole, pitching in his hometown park for the first time as a Yankee, and the ace lived up to expectations in a 4-1 win over the Angels.

It allowed the Yankees to end a long road trip with a victory as they head into an off day Thursday before a 20-game-in-20-day stretch begins in The Bronx on Friday.

“We knew we needed that win big-time and Gerrit came up huge for us,’’ catcher Kyle Higashioka said.

Cole whiffed a season-high 15 and gave up just one run on four hits — with no walks, in a seven-inning, 116-pitch outing.

He featured a devastating fastball and was able to use all four of his pitches effectively.

And the offense, sparked by Luke Voit and Aaron Judge, did the rest, as the Yankees won for the first time since their 13-game winning streak ended in Oakland over the weekend.

Gerrit Cole celebrates after closing out the sixth inning in the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Angels.
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Voit had a two-out, two-run single to give the Yankees the lead in the third and Judge added an insurance run with his 30th homer of the season in the eighth before Jonathan Loaisiga and Aroldis Chapman finished it.

Since coming off the COVID-19 injured list, Cole has been superb and that trend continued Tuesday at Angel Stadium, where he grew up going to games.

The right-hander cruised through the first five innings before hitting the lone bump in the road in the sixth.

Cole gave up a leadoff single to Jack Mayfield, followed by an RBI double to center by David Fletcher to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-1.

With Fletcher on second, Cole got Shohei Ohtani swinging for a third straight time for the first out.

He then struck out Phil Gosselin and Jared Walsh to preserve the two-run advantage.

The key to escaping the jam was getting Ohtani, which Cole said allowed him to pitch more “freely” the rest of the inning.

“He’s arguably the most exciting player in the game right now,’’ Higashioka said of Ohtani, who didn’t pitch in the series because of an injured hand. “Gerrit rose to the occasion, brought his best stuff and did what we all know he can do.’’

Even at 101 pitches, Cole trotted out to start the bottom of the seventh and retired the side in order, adding two more strikeouts to his total.

“I thought overall we played well today,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “But a lot of times, the starting pitcher has a lot to do with that. It was a good, solid win.”

Voit gave the Yankees the lead in the third. After left-hander Packy Naughton retired the first two batters of the inning, DJ LeMahieu walked and Anthony Rizzo singled past first base before Judge’s walk loaded the bases for Voit, who entered the game in a 2-for-17 rut with eight strikeouts.

He delivered a single up the middle to drive in two runs.

Voit was drilled in the rib by a pitch by Andrew Wantz in the fifth, but remained in the game.

The Yankees added another two-out run in the fourth.

Rougned Odor bunted for a hit with one out, moved to second on an Andrew Velazquez groundout and scored on Brett Gardner’s single to center to make it 3-0.

And Judge gave the Yankees’ bullpen a bit more breathing room with a solo shot in the eighth, his 30th of the season, continuing his torrid run.

Loaisiga pitched a scoreless eighth before Chapman finished it with an excellent performance in the ninth, as the closer looks to regain the form he had earlier in the season.

Higashioka said Chapman was just as good on Wednesday as he was at any point during the first half. But the tone was set by Cole, who Judge said provided “complete domination.”

“We needed that out of our ace after the past couple games and after such a long [winning] streak,’’ Judge said. “It felt like he was in control the whole game.”