On a frigid night in Detroit on April 19, Gerrit Cole produced one of the rare blips for the New York Yankees’ pitching staff when he lasted a career-low 1 2/3 innings.

Since then, the Yankees are getting plenty of lengthy outings from their starters. New York’s rotation owns an American League-leading 2.67 ERA heading into Friday night, when Cole takes the mound for the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Detroit Tigers.

The Yankees are off to their best 51-game start since the 114-win 1998 team opened 38-13. They are 7-2 in their past nine games after Nestor Cortes and Jameson Taillon combined to allow one run in 15 innings during a doubleheader sweep of the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.

Cortes pitched seven shutout innings in a 6-1 win in the opener, and Taillon followed by coming within six outs of a perfect game, allowing one run in eight innings during a 2-1 victory. Those outings gave the Yankees seven straight starts of at least six innings.

“It’s hard to win two in the same day, so I’ll definitely take it,” Taillon said. “We’re playing well and we can win in a lot different ways — pitching, defense, hitting. Our bullpen’s nasty. So we’ve kind of showcased a lot of different things we can do.”

Cole (4-1, 3.12 ERA), who owns the second-highest ERA among Yankee starters, is 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 10 career starts against the Tigers, though he has been up and down against them in three outings as a Yankee. Last season, Cole allowed one run in 12 innings during two starts against the Tigers, but Detroit knocked him out early seven weeks ago.

Cole is winless over his past two outings despite registering double-digit strikeout totals in both contests. On May 23, he allowed five runs on eight hits while fanning 11 over eight innings in a 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. On Saturday, he gave up one run on two hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Detroit heads to New York on a three-game winning streak, its second-longest run of success this season. The Tigers are 12-7 over their past 19 contests after getting off to a dreadful 9-23 start. They just took four of five games from the visiting Minnesota Twins.

Detroit ended the series with a 3-2 victory on Thursday afternoon when Daz Cameron hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning.

“This is what we expected to do this season because we have a ton of talent and filled a lot of voids with a totally different team,” Detroit’s Eric Haase said. “We’re starting to find our stride, and to do that with only one starting pitcher that we broke camp with is impressive.”

Detroit won the past two games without Javy Baez. The shortstop is hitting .197 in the first year of a six-year, $140 million deal, and he batted .159 (18-for-113) in May.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch hopes giving Baez a breather might help.

“Sometimes watching the game is good,” Hinch said. “And when you’ve got Harold (Castro, a utility man who can fill in at shortstop,) playing the way he is, it’s pretty convenient to give Javy a couple days to reset physically and mentally and just watch his teammates play.”

Elvin Rodriguez (0-0, 6.17 ERA) will make his third career start and fourth appearance for Detroit. He will be opposing the Yankees for the first time.

Rodriguez allowed a grand slam to Max Kepler on May 23 in Minnesota, when he pitched five innings of four-run ball. However, he allowed just two hits in four shutout innings on Sunday against the Cleveland Guardians.

–Field Level Media