All eyes were on Gerrit Cole and Josh Donaldson on Wednesday night after Donaldson called out the Yankee ace for his recent drop in spin rate, which could be the result of ditching a sticky substance like Spider Tack as the league begins to crack down on the issue.
Donaldson doubled down on his comments before Wednesday’s game, but once the game started, it was all Cole.
Boasting a spin rate closer to his average, Cole fanned Donaldson on a curveball in the first, then struck him out again in the third on a 2-2 slider, glaring at Donaldson both times. He forced a fly out in the sixth to give Donaldson an 0-for-3 against Cole for the day.
“I just tried to approach it like I do every other game,” Cole said. “Have a game seven mentality, keep my blinders on, stay focused on the things I can control and try to bring out the best delivery I can, and have a good game plan with Kyle [Higashioka].”
Cole downplayed the potential desire to silence Donaldson at the plate, but when the former MVP was in the box, Cole appeared to kick things up a notch, throwing two fastballs above 100 mph and four of his six fastest pitches of the year so far were while Donaldson was in the box.
“Probably a bit of the moment,” Cole said. “Again, former MVP and a solid player. Just looking to get outs there by any means necessary, because they don’t come easy.”
Cole gave Donaldson a staredown after both strikeouts, but reiterated after the game that Donaldson’s pregame comments didn’t contribute to any added satisfaction.
“He’s a former MVP, a big cog in the lineup…an important spot for us to try to attack and keep neutralized if we want to keep runs off the board, so just the satisfaction of executing those pitches in that spot to put our team in a better position to win was enough,” Cole said.
Cole also doesn’t plan to reach out to Donaldson about his comments, which became heightened after Cole was directly asked about ever using Spider Tack on Tuesday, leading to a long pause before declining to answer the question, sparking a wave of scrutiny that has already been heightened around pitchers across the league due to MLB’s new initiative to crack down on banned substances.
“I haven’t, and I don’t see any need to,” Cole said of potentially speaking with Donadlson. “I’m good. But if he has anything more to say, like I said yesterday, he’s welcome to reach out.”
As for his answer, or lack thereof, to Tuesday’s Spider Tack question, Cole addressed it again after Wednesday’s win.
“I hesitated on the specificity of the question because I just don’t think this is the forum to discuss those kind of things,” Cole said. “There’s an appropriate time for players to discuss those things, and I’ll keep it to that forum.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1