BALTIMORE — Straight away, the sight of Gerrit Cole taking the mound Tuesday night had to be a lift.
A week earlier, the Yankees watched their ace make an early exit from a start at Yankee Stadium, due to a tight left hamstring — a moment that allowed minds to wander in dark directions.
As it turned out, Cole’s next turn was delayed by just two days, and he was “probably ready as early as Sunday or Monday,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game at Camden Yards.
“Just wanted to make sure we were smart about this,’’ Boone said. “And that he was able to throw his normal (between starts) bullpen and settle into his normal routine.
“I think he’s in a good spot,’’ Boone said of his right-hander’s readiness. “Hopefully, he’ll have a normal Gerrit Cole-like outing.’’
After a bumpy start, Cole lasted just five innings due to an elevated pitch count but yielded just one run in a 7-2 win against the Orioles.
Before 10,235 fans, many as usual rooting for the visitors, the Yankees smashed five home runs.
Two-run homers by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and a solo shot by Luke Voit provided a 5-0 lead by the third inning against lefty starter Alexander Wells.
In the eighth, Joey Gallo joined the rest of the “Jumbo Package’’ of outfielders with his 34th homer of the year, his ninth as a Yankee. DJ LeMahieu drilled his 10th in the ninth inning.