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Yankees’ Gerrit Cole picks up 2000th career strikeout

Apr 16, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole picked up his 2000th strikeout in his start against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

The 32-year-old came into Tuesday’s game two strikeouts away from the milestone and quickly picked it up in the second inning against the young Orioles team. The Yankees got an ace Terrine Vavra on a 2-2 rising fastball that overpowered the left-hander.

The milestone strikeout came when he got Jorge Mateo to swing on a 97 mph fastball in the middle of the strike zone. He’s the 87th player in MLB history to do so.

Despite the milestone, Cole did not pitch well Tuesday.

He pitched five-plus innings, giving up five runs and picking up just those two strikeouts. When his night was done, the Yankees were down 5-4 until Aaron Judge’s home run in the ninth inning tied it, and Anthony Volpe’s walk-off sac fly won the game in the 10th.

“It’s a pretty special accomplishment,” Cole said after the game. “I was pretty depressed about the whole thing, for the most part, until Judgie came through and picked us up. Probably leaving the game more thrilled about how well we played as a team than accomplishing that.”

Cole’s 2000th strikeout made him the third fastest pitcher to reach the milestone, in terms of games played. He’s behind Randy Johnson (262) and Clayton Kershaw (277) on the list. In terms of fewest innings to get to 2000 strikeouts, Cole is now the third-fastest with 1714.2 IP. He’s behind just Chris Sale (16260 IP) and Pedro Martinez (1711.1 IP).

The California native became the eighth pitcher to pick up their 2000th career strikeouts as a Yankee, joining David ConeDwight Gooden, Catfish Hunter, Mike Mussina, Bobo Newsom, Andy Pettite and CC Sabathia.

Entering Tuesday, Cole had 662 career strikeouts in four seasons in pinstripes. In five years with the Pirates, where he started his career, Cole struck out 734 batters. In his two-year stint with the Astros, Cole struck out 602 batters.

Cole struck out 257 batters last season, breaking the Yankees single-season record for punchouts. Earlier this year, Cole set the Yankees’ Opening Day record for strikeouts when he got 11 Giants out on strikes back on March 30.

This season, Cole has pitched like an early Cy Young candidate. In 10 starts, Cole is 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.085 WHIP with 68 strikeouts in 62.6 innings pitched.

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