Ji-Man Choi has three homers this season. Two of them are off Gerrit Cole, including one in Tampa Bay’s 5-3 win over the Yankees in The Bronx on Monday.
The Rays first baseman didn’t have an easy answer for why he’s been successful against the Yankee ace — and neither did his manager, Kevin Cash.
“Look, I don’t understand how anybody hits Gerrit Cole, honestly,’’ Cash said. “Ji-Man has had some good at-bats against him.”
Choi — who also singled through the right side of the infield and walked against Cole — said it was because he enjoyed facing elite pitching.
“Seeing the best pitcher, I think, brings the best out of me,’’ Choi said through an interpreter. “I can’t tell you what I see [from him]. Just my competitive side wants to hit off one of the best pitchers in the league.”
Choi wasn’t the only one, as the Rays got the two-run shot by Choi in the first, a long solo homer from Kevin Kiermaier in the second and another run in the fifth by stringing together four straight base runners off Cole to start the inning.
“We were fortunate to get runs early on,’’ Cash said. “He’s the last guy you want to get settled in. We looked like we were a little more aggressive here. That’s kind of the trend with facing him. You don’t want to get to two strikes because he can put you away.”
But the Rays were also patient enough to draw four walks off the right-hander in a disappointing five-inning outing.
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