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Yankees ace Cole throws plenty of pitches in 1st spring game

Opening Day

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 29: New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers a pitch during the MLB Spring Training game between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees on February 29, 2020 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by /Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. - Yankees ace Gerrit Cole felt his first spring training start was better than his pitching line.

Cole allowed four runs and four hits with five strikeouts and a walk over two-plus innings in New York’s 7-4 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

The right-hander gave up homers to Diego Castillo and Cole Tucker.

“Well, I thought that stuff was pretty good,” Cole said. “When we made good pitches, we got good results. So, I think the amount of first-pitch strikes was too low and there was a handful counts that I fell behind in. I was just wide a few times. So those kind of culminated into being behind a little bit more than I want it to be today.”

Cole, coming off a pair of simulated games, threw 29 of 50 pitches for strikes. The expected opening day starter April 7 against Boston will pitch one more time at spring training.

“I liked what I saw,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I was really pleased with his stuff, the quality of his fastball. Didn’t have the strike throwing down exactly or the command dialed-in exactly how he’s going to. I thought delivery-wise he was real smooth. Got his work load up but I thought it was a good day of work for him.”

Cole went 16-8 with a 3.23 ERA in 30 starts last season, but was losing pitcher after allowing three runs over two innings in a 6-2 loss to the Red Sox in the AL wild-card game. He was slowed late in the year by a left hamstring injury.