HOUSTON — Yankees ace Gerrit Cole demanded on the mound that manager Aaron Boone let him get the final out, then struck out Yordan Alvarez with a 99 mph fastball on his career-high 129th pitch to cap the New York Yankees’ 1-0 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
Aaron Judge hit a solo homer and Cole did the rest, completing a three-hitter for his fifth career complete game and third shutout. His only other nine-inning shutout was May 4, 2018 against Arizona while he pitched for Houston.
The AL West-leading Astros, who entered this series having been shutout just once all season, were blanked for a second straight game after losing 4-0 in the opener on Friday night.
Cole (9-4), who pitched for the Astros from 2018-2019, tied a season low in hits and struck out 12. His 129 pitches are the most in the majors this season, surpassing Trevor Bauer’s 126.
Cole beat Houston for the first time in his third career try, giving him at least one win against every team in the majors.
All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman began warming for the Yankees during the eighth inning but never got in the game.
Jose Altuve singled to start the ninth for Houston, and Michael Brantley battled through a 10-pitch at-bat before flying out. Yuli Gurriel struck out on what he thought was a checked swing, and Boone visited the mound contemplating a pitching change with Cole at 126 pitches.
Cole berated Boone when he got to the mound, shouting that he wanted to face Alvarez. Boone relented, Cole punched out Alvarez on three pitches and then the Yankees All-Star let out an enormous holler.
There were two outs in the third when Judge connected off Zack Greinke (8-3) on his soaring shot to left field. The slugger then provided a bit of entertainment on his trip around the bases.
Judge pulled his jersey together with both hands as he rounded third. It was a gesture that some on social media thought was a reference to Altuve gripping his jersey to keep teammates from ripping it off during the celebration after his game-winning homer in Game 6 of the 2019 AL Championship Series against the Yankees.
After Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was uncovered, some speculated that Altuve didn’t want his jersey pulled off because he was concealing a buzzer that helped in the plot. The allegation was never proven, and Altuve said he did it because he was shy and that he got in trouble with his wife when his jersey was ripped off before.
Cole bounced back after permitting four runs in 3 1/3 innings for his shortest start since 2016 against the Mets his last time out. That came after he yielded eight hits and six runs — both season highs — in five innings of a 9-2 loss to Boston on June 27.
Greinke lasted just four innings, allowing three hits and one run in his first loss since May 25, snapping a four-game winning streak.
Cole walked two batters in the fourth but didn’t allow a hit until Abraham Toro singled with one out in the fifth inning. He retired the next five batters before Gurriel singled with no outs in the seventh.
He then struck out Alvarez on three pitches, freezing him with a low 100 mph fastball for a called third strike. Cole pounded his hand into his glove a couple of times as Alvarez trudged back to the dugout shaking his head.
Cole sat down the next two batters in the seventh and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
Yankees: Boone said LHP Zack Britton (left hamstring strain) is expected to be activated on Thursday after being out since June 26. … INF/OF Miguel Andújar was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Wednesday, with a strained left wrist. … RHP Jonathan Loaisiga was added to the injured list due to health and safety protocols. … RHP Albert Abreu and RHP Booke Kriske were recalled from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre to take Andújar and Loaisiga’s spots on the roster.
Astros: Manager Dusty Baker said SS Carlos Correa, who was placed on the injured list due to health and safety protocols on Friday, was still ill on Saturday. “He’s not good,” Baker said. “He’s sick.” Baker said he didn’t have any other details about his illness but said that he was resting at home. … 3B Alex Bregman (strained left quadriceps) took batting practice on the field Saturday and should be ready for a rehabilitation assignment next week.
New York RHP Jameson Taillon (4-4, 5.05 ERA) will oppose LHP Framber Valdez (5-1, 2.86) when the Yankees look to complete the sweep Sunday.