NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole put a career-worst pummeling behind him with six sharp innings, and the New York Yankees capitalized on shaky defense by the Tampa Bay Rays for a 2-0 victory Tuesday night.
The AL East-leading Yankees won their fifth straight as they played the first of six games in nine days against third-place Tampa Bay. New York entered Tuesday nine games ahead of the two-time defending division champs and eight up on the Blue Jays, who will host the Yankees for three games this weekend.
New York had just five hits but improved to 45-16, the best 61-game start across baseball since Seattle in 2001.
The Yankees were without third baseman Josh Donaldson, who served a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball for comments to White Sox star Tim Anderson regarding Jackie Robinson. Donaldson’s ban was upheld on appeal.
Cole (6-1) allowed a career-most five homers against Minnesota in his previous outing but bounced back with a mostly stress-free start. The right-hander struck out seven, walked one and allowed five hits, all singles.
Ex-Yankee Corey Kluber (3-3) countered Cole with six innings, allowing two unearned runs, four hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless ninth for his 10th save, completing the Yankees’ six-hitter and their 10th shutout.
The Rays made two errors in the fourth that allowed New York to take a 2-0 lead.
After Giancarlo Stanton’s one-out walk, right fielder Manuel Margot dropped Gleyber Torres’ routine popup near the foul line. Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a two-out single, and left fielder Randy Arozarena had a chance to throw out Stanton at the plate. Arozarena’s high throw sailed so far over the catcher that Stanton scored easily and Torres was able to follow him home.
Tampa Bay has allowed 40…