In a potential AL wild-card preview, Cole took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning and led the Yankees to an 8-3 victory Friday night, snapping Boston's seven-game winning streak and pulling New York within one game of the Red Sox in the standings.
"He's a great pitcher. He's our ace. He's a horse," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "There's a very short list of people you'd rather hand the ball to."
With Boston in its lucky yellow jerseys and Fenway Park sold to capacity for just the third time this season, Cole (16-8) no-hit the Red Sox for 3 2/3 innings and New York coasted to its fourth straight win.
Eovaldi (10-9) barely made it out of the first inning and couldn't get through the third.
"The good ones, they have bad ones," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, whose team holds the top American League wild card.
Giancarlo Stanton had three hits, including a three-run homer, for the Yankees, who are one game back and in position for the second wild card; Toronto lost 3-1 to Minnesota and fell two games behind New York.
Unless the Blue Jays — or Seattle or Oakland — can catch one of them, the Red Sox and Yankees would meet in a one-game playoff Oct. 5 for the right to advance to an AL Division Series.
Whoever finishes better over the last eight games could host the winner-take-all matchup. And this weekend in Boston might have a lot to say about that.
"I haven't gotten quite to the point where I'm really pondering that. I still have some work to do," said Cole, who noted that he has played in three wild-card games and seen the home team lose two of them. "Regardless of it's here, Toronto, New York — we're going to have to play really good baseball, no matter who's cheering for us."
Bouncing back from perhaps his worst start of the season, Cole allowed three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out six in six innings.
Gleyber Torres also had three hits — including a homer — for the Yankees, who opened the season with seven straight losses against their AL East archrivals but have since beaten them seven out of 10 tries.
J.D. Martinez broke up Cole's no-hit bid with a double down the right field line with two out in the fourth. Rafael Devers spoiled the shutout with a three-run homer in the sixth that made it 7-3.
Torres led off the seventh with a fly ball to straightaway center that was knocked back onto the field by a fan in the front row of the bleachers. There was some confusion before the umpires confirmed that it was a home run.
José Iglesias and Kiké Hernandez singled off Yankees reliever Clay Holmes with two out in the seventh before Wandy Peralta struck out pinch-hitter Bobby Dalbec to end Boston's last big threat.
ACE IN THE HOLE
With erstwhile ace Chris Sale only making seven starts so far after recovering from Tommy John surgery — and only once completing as many as six innings — Eovaldi had been mentioned as a possible No. 1 starter for Boston's playoff run. But he allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings.
The first three Yankees batters reached base and scored against Eovaldi. Aaron Judge doubled in one run, went to third on Stanton's RBI groundout and scored on Torres' two-out single.
Stanton hit his 32nd homer in the third. Eovaldi left after giving up Joey Gallo's single and walking Brett Gardner; Hirokazu Sawamura replaced him and got Kyle Higashioka to pop the ball up, but first baseman Kyle Schwarber let it drop for a run-scoring single that made it 7-0.
Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (ankle) is with the team for the road trip and Boone said there is a "good chance" Taillon returns for one of the games against Toronto next week. He has not pitched since Sept. 6.
Red Sox: Reinstated OF Jarren Duran and INF Jonathan Araúz from the COVID-19 injured list and optioned them to Triple-A Worcester. To make room for them on the 40-man roster, RHPs Geoff Hartlieb and Yacksel Rios were designated for assignment.
Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes (2-2, 2.79 ERA) has struck out 30 and walked six over 22 1/3 innings in four starts. He'll oppose Red Sox righty Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.63), who is winless in his past five starts and allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Aug. 18.
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