Josh Donaldson slams Red Sox, Yankees win series opener

Update the sign: that’s 60 in the W column. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

BOSTON — Gerrit Cole turned to see the ball sailing high into the night. The Yankees ace closed his eyes, he knew it was out. His shoulders and head dropped. Cole opened his eyes and threw up his hands. The right-hander did not know what else he could do to try and contain Red Sox slugger Rafael Devers.

“WTF, man” Cole said was his thoughts at that moment. “But it didn’t beat us. It didn’t beat us.”

Cole couldn’t beat the Red Sox, but the Yankees’ bats, even without Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, did Thursday night. Josh Donaldson hit a grand slam and Aaron Hicks homered as the Bombers edged out the Red Sox 6-5 at Fenway Park.

The Yankees have won two straight after losing two in a row. They improved their best-in-baseball record to 60-23 and knocked the Red Sox (45-38) back to third place in the American League East behind the Rays, who the Yankees lead by 14.5 games.

Donaldson hit a grand slam, his second four-bagger in as many games, and went back-to-back for the second straight day, this time pairing with Aaron Hicks as they both homered in the third inning. Hicks tripled in the fifth and scored on a Jose Trevino “double,” on a pop up that first baseman Franchy Cordero simply missed.

It is the first time the Yankees have hit grand slams in back-to-back games since June 30 and July 1, 2017 at Houston. They are just the third team in the last 20 years to hit three grand slams in two games, joining the Yankees in 2011 and the Mets in 2006.

Cole allowed five runs on two big swings from Rafael Devers and scattered three other hits. He walked three and struck out seven. The bullpen pitched three hitless innings, with Wandy Peralta finally getting Devers out in the seventh. Michael King had a scoreless eighth and Clay Holmes finished it off in the ninth for his 16th save.

Cole allowed five runs on five hits, well he allowed them on two big swings from Rafael Devers. He walked three and struck out seven.

The $324 million man had his hands full with Devers Thursday night. The young lefty slugger came into the game with four homers in 27 at-bats against the Yankees’ ace — and only improved on that. Cole walked him in the first inning and then Devers took him deep in the third, a two-run shot to right field. In the fifth, with two on, Devers hammered a second to dead center field, a 434-foot monster that had Cole flustered.

“Yeah,  I’m open for suggestions,” Cole said of facing Devers. “You guys are all watching the game too, so…..I mean, just, yeah. Obviously, he has the ability to ride the ball out at the bottom of the zone, has  the ability to catch up to my fastball, he’s  proven that. So both pitches were pretty well executed.”

Cole has allowed 10 home runs in his last six starts after allowing six in his first 11 this season.

Other than that, Cole and Aaron Boone were satisfied with his start.

“I thought he was great tonight, other than obviously Devers who got him,” the Yankees manager said of Cole. “I thought he was sharp. I thought his stuff was really good. I thought he was for the most part, getting into some good counts and dictating counts, pounding the strike zone with all this stuff.

“Devers was just a handful for him.”

Unlike his last visit here, when he left the mound at Fenway, head down the Red Sox fans taunting him after giving up two home runs and leaving two runners on after just recording six outs in the Wild Card Game loss that ended the Yankees’ season, Cole had a lot of offensive support Thursday.

With Judge sitting out with a tight calf issue and Rizzo missing his third straight game with back spasms, Donaldson and Hicks had to carry the Yankees. It was the second straight game the Yankees had back-to-back homers with Donaldson and Gallo going back-to-back against the Pirates.

“I feel like it’s kind of in a process as I mentioned earlier,  just trying to work up on some set of changes to kind of help me to feel like I’m getting in my legs a little bit more and able to stay in my legs throughout my swing a little bit more,” Donaldson said of his recent success. “And so whenever I do get some pitches to hit, I’m not missing them, fouling them off and  able to, hit it pretty hard in the air.”