BOSTON — The Yankees led with their ace on the mound, and you would’ve bet your house on a defeat. You know this team too well. Gerrit Cole indeed lost on Friday night, 6-2 to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and you don’t pin much blame at all on the $301.3
Author: Ken Davidoff
Published: 2021-07-24 01:20 am
These Yankees have you always fearing the worst

BOSTON — The Yankees led with their ace on the mound, and you would’ve bet your house on a defeat.

You know this team too well.

Gerrit Cole indeed lost on Friday night, 6-2 to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and you don’t pin much blame at all on the $301.3 million man, not after the way he has performed recently. In the context of his two previous outings — a shutout of the Astros on July 10 and a rain-shortened, six-inning complete game to beat the Bosox on July 17 — Cole pitched satisfactorily, limiting the Red Sox to three runs in five innings as they wore him out for an astounding 104 pitches.

“It’s the AL East. Tough division,” Cole said. “We’re playing good clubs.”

Unfortunately for him, the nitrous oxide of the “Bronx RailRiders” vibe seems to have worn off, the Yankees now feeling the full effects of their COVID-19 outbreak as well as their overall roller-coaster campaign. With each loss generally (this was number 46, two fewer than their entire 1998 regular season) and specifically to the Red Sox (against whom they are now 2-9 and whom they trail by nine games in the American League East, yeesh), you increasingly wonder what sort of resources the Yankees should expend before the July 30 trade deadline. They can’t give up anyone good from their minor league system, right? Not for an endeavor that looks too much like a Hail Mary pass.

Manager Aaron Boone during the Yankees’ loss to the Red Sox on Friday night.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

In the wake of Thursday night’s disastrous loss, which featured Chad Green coughing up a two-run, ninth-inning lead and Brooks Kriske throwing four wild pitches to lose it in the 10th, the Yankees created (and received) one shot to move past that on Friday, and when they blew that, you could start writing their nightly obituary. Whether they’re soft or are just wiped out at this juncture might be inconsequential.

That one opportunity arrived in the top of the second inning, when Brett Gardner doubled home Gary Sanchez for the 1-0 lead and put Yankees on second and third with no outs. Boston starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez summoned his manager, Alex Cora, to the mound and accompanied Cora and other VIPs back to the dugout moments later, his night felled by migraine systems.

In came righty reliever Phillips Valdez for the southpaw starter Rodriguez, and righty-swinging first baseman Chris Gittens clearly struck out. Ryan LaMarre loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch, only for recent hero Greg Allen and former team most valuable player DJ LeMahieu to fan, leaving the bases jammed and completely flipping the momentum.

“With Gerritt on the mound, it didn’t feel like the game at the time,” said LeMahieu, whose slash line dropped to .266/.350/.357, “but it ended up being some pretty big runs [left on the table].”

For this was not the Cole of recent vintage. He battled like crazy, picking up eight strikeouts against six hits and two walks, yet through three innings, he had thrown a startling 70 pitches. When the Sawx did connect against him, they hit the ball hard. Hence it proved no surprise when the home team broke through with a three-run fifth, a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly tying the score and a Rafael Devers two-run homer putting the Red Sox up by a 3-1 count. Cole finished the inning with 104 pitches thrown, and Aaron Boone showed mercy by lifting him there.

By the time Devers slammed a three-run shot off Nestor Cortes (the first returnee from this outbreak) in the seventh, Sanchez had left the game with mid-back spasms and all hope had been lost, the Yankees 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position (and adding one more failure each in the eighth and ninth). Five Red Sox relievers combined to throw eight innings of one-run ball, that run coming with two outs in the ninth. Brutal.

This Yankees club inspires a lack of confidence. It instills you with a fear that something disastrous will occur. Even with its best player front and center.

“It’s frustrating,” Boone said, “but we also have a 4 o’clock game [Saturday] that’s really important.”

Your 2021 Yankees, ladies and gentlemen. Coming to an ulcer near you.

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