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Gerrit Cole half-joked last summer that he was “open to suggestions” while trying to figure out how to get out Red Sox slugger Rafael Devers.
Nearly a year later, he’s still searching for answers in his toughest head-to-head matchup.
Devers took the Yankees’ ace deep for the seventh time in their careers Friday night, the most home runs Cole has surrendered to any one batter over 11 big-league seasons.
The $324-million righty only allowed two runs over six innings, but that was enough to send him to his first loss of the year in a 3-2 Boston victory at the Stadium.
“I wish I could answer that,” Cole said about Devers after falling to 7-1 with a 2.84 ERA over 14 starts. “He just has a lot of power and he seems to be able to backspin the ball well, so he gets good carry.
“I’ve had times where I’ve switched pitches, and he’s been on them. I’ve had times where I’ve stayed stubborn, and he’s been on them. They paid him $300 million for a reason. He’s a good player, man. Just a good player and I haven’t come across any other player quite like him.”
Devers, who signed an 11-year extension worth $331 million in the offseason, has worn out Yankees pitching in recent years, with five homers and 18 RBIs against them in 2021 followed by another six dingers with 13 driven in last season.
He went deep twice against Cole in a game last July at Fenway Park, leading to the All-Star hurler’s “open to suggestions” plea.
In Friday’s fourth inning, the two-time All-Star third baseman ripped a one-out double that bounced over the right-field wall, and he scored the game’s first run on another two-base hit by Triston Casas.
Two innings later, Devers crushed a first-pitch changeup from Cole the other way for a solo homer into the visiting bullpen in left-center for a 2-0 Boston advantage.
“I didn’t really expect him to be looking for a changeup after he hit the last one pretty well [for the double],” Cole said. “I haven’t thought very many times that it’s been a bad pitch, but Raffy seems to let me know otherwise.
“Pretty good pitch, well-executed, but better swing.”
Cole completed that frame before getting replaced by Albert Abreu to start the seventh, finishing the night with a line of six innings, seven hits, two earned runs with one walk and six strikeouts over 101 pitches.
“I thought [Cole] had a really good heater … I mean, two runs in six innings, we’ve got to try and make that work, obviously,” Aaron Boone said. “He got hurt a little bit with some secondary [pitches], that’s where they did their damage, or where they got their hits on him.
“I think Devers hit two changeups, to be able to ride it, you look at that pitch down and away, to be able to hit that in the other bullpen, it’s pretty impressive.”