Bronx, NY: Not that long ago the Yankees compiled a 13-game winning streak and after the All-Star break had the best record in baseball. The Yankees could do nothing wrong and hit the baseball with runners in scoring position.
The starting rotation owned a 3.13 ERA and 315 strikeouts in their last 55 starts since the second game of a doubleheader on July 4th against the cross-town Mets. The bullpen was also holding on to leads and got the saves.
Tuesday night in the Bronx, and for the second consecutive game, the Yankees could not handle a lefthander. This time it was the former cross-town Mets starter Steven Matz and the Toronto Blue Jays handling the Yankees their fourth straight loss with a 5-1 win.
More importantly, after losing their eighth game in the last ten, the Yankees may have lost their ace Gerrit Cole who was removed with two outs in the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness.
Again, though, the Yankees offense looks to be non-existent. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo went a combined 3-for-12 with an RBI.
This is more than the Yankees reverting to their old ways of their dreadful first half. There is a concern because this is a Yankees season that can be described as bi-polar as they hold a half game lead over the Red Sox for an AL wild card.
Tampa Bay keeps winning and running away towards the division title.
But the concern is that Cole will likely miss his next start and manager Aaron Boone said he is not scheduled for an MRI. The Yankees hope they won’t be without their ace for a long duration as that important stretch run continues.
“I’m obviously disappointed about the outcome for today,” Cole said. “But I kind of want to reserve judgement until we see how this thing kind of reacts for the next 24 to 36 hours.”
Cole said, “I guess for my mentality, I just want to make sure I’m good or if I need a few extra days. Unfortunately I just had to pull the plug in Tuesday’s game.”
Better that the Yankees are cautious about this one because If they are positioned as a wildcard team, Cole would get the start for the one game elimination. Since being reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list, Cole won his last four starts and posted a 0,73 ERA with 39 strikeouts.
Matz allowed one run in six innings. The Blue Jays won their sixth straight and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. With two games remaining in this series, Toronto, two games off the first AL wildcard, could bypass the Yankees.
Marcus Semion extended a career high with his 38th home run off Albert Abreu leading off the fifth inning, also a best third straight home run game. Alejandro Kirk recorded his second career multi-home run game.
The Blue Jays, leading the AL in home runs and slugging, extended their lead with a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. sacrifice fly and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his career-high hitting streak stopped at 14 games.
Now with the status of Cole undetermined, and with the Yankees sudden inability to hit and score runs, there is also that concern. The Yankees were held without an extra-base hit or a walk for the second straight game.
“We had some guys that hit the ball OK today compared to yesterday, but the bottom line is we’ve got to be better,” Boone said. “We’ve got our guys now and if we’re going to be the team we hope to be, our offense has to carry that freight for us. So we’ve got to get it rolling.”
Boone said prior to the game,”It’s going to take all 28 guys now really doing the job and playing an important role for us down the stretch here.” He was referring to Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Gio Urshela, Rougned Odor and Andrew Velazquez getting starts and coming off the bench as late inning infield replacements.
Again, though, the Yankees potent lineup is being exposed and getting stopped with good pitching going against them. And losing Cole for an extended period could also spoil their push to the postseason.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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