MINNEAPOLIS — Gerrit Cole made history Thursday night during the Yankees’ 10-7 victory over the Twins — just not the kind he and his team would like.
The right-hander became the first pitcher in franchise history to allow three straight home runs to start a game when Luis Arraez, Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa homered back-to-back-to-back to open the bottom of the first.
The three homers came in the span of four pitches. It was the first time Cole had allowed three homers in an inning — let alone to three consecutive hitters.
The streak ended when Cole walked by Jorge Polanco before he finally got his first out by striking out Max Kepler.
Cole wasn’t done. He gave up two more homers — a three-run shot to Buxton in the second inning and a solo blast to Trevor Larnach in the third. Cole was removed after just 2 /₃ inningsr.
He ended up allowing seven runs and a career-worst five homers before the Yankees bailed him out. He had given up just six homers in his first 11 outings.
“I was leaving them over the plate, pitch after pitch,” Cole said after the second-shortest outing of his career. “I never found a way to make it better.”
Domingo German threw three innings in a simulated game in Tampa on Thursday and Boone said the right-hander’s next appearance could be the start of a rehab assignment.
“All reports are that he’s in a pretty good place,” manager Aaron Boone said of German, who was shut down with right shoulder impingement this spring. “We’re really encouraged by what we’ve seen down there the first months [of the season],
Once he’s ready to join the Yankees, Boone said he could envision German as a starter or reliever.
With the Yankees set to play 20 games in 20 days following an off-day Monday, they may need a sixth starter at some point, especially with the workloads of Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino being monitored.
Boone said the need for a spot starter is “conceivable.”
After hitting 10 homers in 211 plate appearances last season, Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka smacked seven home runs in 11 Grapefruit League games this spring.
But that power has been strangely lacking this season. He has yet to hit a home run in 93 plate appearances and has a miniscule OPS of .427.
Boone said he’s not sure why Higashioka’s power stroke has gone missing.
Jose Trevino, who started Thursday, has played more than Higashioka recently, but they continue to split time.
Boone pointed to Higashioka’s numbers against left-handed pitchers as especially concerning.
“Even in seasons when he’s had some struggles, he’s usually brought that power presence against lefties,” Boone said. “He just hasn’t gotten on track yet this year.”
Higashioka had an OPS of .791 versus lefties in 2021, compared to .558 against right-handers.
So far this season, he hasn’t hit at all, with an OPS of .425 against lefties and .428 versus right-handers.
Higashioka, who didn’t start and went 0-for-1 in Thursday’s win, doubled and hit a ball to the warning track — both to left field — in the loss Wednesday at Minnesota, but he has four extra-base hits in 2022 .
Boone said he has seen some promising signs from Higashioka in recent weeks and believes for him to get back into form offensively, he must “get in a good rhythm at the plate.”
“When he gets in trouble, sometimes it’s because he’s not making good swing decisions,” Boone said. “I feel he’s been improved lately.”
But as is the case for the hot-hitting Trevino, Boone wants both catchers to focus on their defense.
“They know that’s their calling card,” Boone said.
Nevertheless, Boone is waiting for a hot streak from Higashioka.
“There’s a lot in there for Kyle offensively to get out and hopefully at some point, the power he has will show up a little bit,” Boone said. “I know he’s working hard on that part of the game. … It’s been a little bit of a grind for him the first third of the season … but we love what he’s doing behind the plate.”
Aroldis Chapman (Achilles) is slated to throw a bullpen session on Saturday in The Bronx, while another veteran reliever, Shane Greene, could pitch himself into the bullpen mix.
Greene, a right-hander, has allowed just three base runners in 5 /₃ in for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since signing a minor league deal with the Yankees.