Wagging finger at Mariners, Cole leads Yankees to 3-1 win

Jun 20, 2023, 6:56 PM | Updated: 8:45 pm

Seattle Mariners NY Yankees Gerrit Cole...

Yankees SP Gerrit Cole tips his hat to the crowd during a game against the Seattle Mariners. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – Gerrit Cole wagged a finger 15 times at Mariners manager Scott Servais and threw a pitch to José Caballero that landed high up on the backstop.

Cole’s message was clear: Don’t mess with me.

New York Yankees 3, Seattle Mariners 1: Box score

“Sometimes a high fastball can be a really effective pitch. Got to change eye level,” the New York Yankees ace deadpanned after a 3-1 win over Seattle on Tuesday night that stopped a four-game losing streak.

Boosted by Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double in the first inning and Billy McKinney’s two-run homer in the second, New York improved to 7-0 when Cole pitches after a Yankees loss. Cole is 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA in those starts.

His 0-2 pitch to Caballero was as clear as an all-upper case tweet.

“I think that raised their antenna,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Caballero stepped out repeatedly during his first two at-bats until the pitch clock was down to the 8-second requirement to be in the batter’s box and alert. Caballero walked to the edge of the circle after taking a called strike with two outs in the seventh, fouled off the next pitch and walked to the edge again, then returned and called his one allowed timeout.

Cole responded with a 97 mph fastball 10-15 feet above the batter’s head.

“He didn’t like the way I was manipulating the pitch clock but he just got excited, so that’s good,” Caballero said. “The rules are there for all of us, and I just had to be ready at 8 seconds.”

Caballero swung past a full-count fastball, and Cole stared at him as he walked off the mound. Cole turned to the Mariners’ dugout and wagged his right index finger over and over.

“Their manager had some choice words for me coming off the field and he was wagging his finger at me, so I wagged my finger at him,” Cole said.

Plate umpire Dan Bellino walked toward the New York dugout and had an intense discussion with Boone.

“I don’t remember it because, obviously, there was yelling, some back and forth at the dugouts,” Boone said. “I was like, ‘Why are you yelling at us?’ It felt like they started yelling at us right away.”

Servais finished his postgame interview before Cole spoke.

“Cabby plays the game the right way,” Servais said. “He plays by the rules. He gets in there. Obviously others didn’t think it was right, but Cabby’s done that since he’s been in the big leagues. He’s not going to change how he plays.”

Cole (8-1) allowed one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and a walk, giving up an opposite-field RBI double to Jarred Kelenic off the left-field wall in the sixth.

Cole received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Clay Holmes, then raised his right index finger and thumb to tip his cap to the crowd of 43,130 as he walked to the dugout.

Holmes got five straight outs for his ninth save in 11 chances, ending a game that took just 2 hours, 9 minutes. The Cole-Caballero confrontation was the lasting memory.

“New age,” Boone said. “Pitch-clock age.”


Rizzo had an RBI double off George Kirby (6-6) that popped out of the glove of Teoscar Hernández, who appeared unsure how close he was to the wall in right-center.

McKinney’s 432-foot homer boosted a Yankees offense hitting a major league-low .196 in June.

Rizzo went 3 for 4, breaking out of a 4-for-48 (.083) slide that began when he injured his neck in a collision at first base with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28. … Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts, dropping to .111 (5 for 45) with 17 strikeouts since returning from a hamstring injury. … Josh Donaldson was 0 for 3, falling to .150 (6 for 40) since coming back from his hamstring strain.


Yankees CF Harrison Bader was 1 for 3 with a stolen base in his first game since May 29 after recovering from a strained hamstring.


Kirby, a native of suburban Rye who grew up a Yankees fans and had a large contingent on hand to root for him, allowed eight hits in seven innings with four strikeouts. He walked none for the eighth time in 14 starts and had one walk in each of the other six. His 0.62 walks per nine innings leads qualified pitchers. Kansas City’s Zack Greinke is second at 1.17.


Seattle Mariners: SS J.P. Crawford left after 2 1/2 innings. He bruised his right shoulder when Bader stole second in the second inning and will have an MRI on Wednesday.

New York Yankees: LHP Carlos Rodón (strained left forearm, sore back) allowed one run over three innings for Double-A Somerset against New Hampshire, his first game since a two-inning spring training outing for New York against Atlanta on March 5. Rodón struck out five, walked one and allowed one hit, throwing 27 of 42 pitches for strikes.


Seattle Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (4-5, 2.73 ERA) is on the mound Wednesday night. He has lost three straight starts for the first time since Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, 2021.

New York Yankees: RHP Jhony Brito (3-3, 5.58) will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make his first start since May 20, filling an opening caused by Saturday’s rainout in Boston that forced a doubleheader Sunday.

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