The skidding Yankees could not afford to drop another game, and they certainly could not afford to lose their best pitcher, but the costly L’s continued to pile up Tuesday night.
Ace Gerrit Cole departed in the fourth inning with what the team announced as left hamstring tightness, and the Yankees went on to suffer their eighth defeat in 10 games following a 13-game winning streak, 5-1, to the surging Blue Jays at the Stadium.
Afterward, Cole called coming out of the game “super-disappointing” and he was “pretty bummed about it,” but the $324 million righty expressed hope that he will make his next start.
“It’s tough to say right now. I’m obviously disappointed about the outcome of today,” Cole said. “I just want to reserve judgment and see how this thing reacts the next 24-36 hours. I guess maybe for my own mentality I just want to make sure I’m good or if I need a few extra days.
“I’m gonna definitely be as smart about it as I can, and trust my instincts. … Hopefully I’ll be able to make the next one. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
The Yanks (78-60) at least maintained their half-game lead over the Red Sox — losers again to the runaway AL East leaders, the Rays — for the first wild-card position, but the Jays suddenly have moved within 2 1/2 games of Aaron Boone’s club with their sixth consecutive victory. They’ll have two more chances to draw closer in this week’s four-game series.
Boone sat a couple of slumping regulars — Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres — but former Mets lefty Steven Matz limited the Yankees to one run on seven hits over six innings to improve to 11-7.
According to the YES Network, the Yankees have failed to record a walk or an extra-base in successive games for only the fourth time in team history and the first time since June 1962.
“In comparison to [Monday], at least we put some good swings on balls, but the bottom line is we’ve got to be better,” Boone said of Monday’s 8-0 loss. “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. We’ve got to get it rolling.”
The 31-year-old Cole (14-7, 2.78) came in rolling and as one of the front-runners for the AL Cy Young Award. But Matz, the Long Island-bred lefty obtained from the Mets last winter, also came in pitching well for Toronto, sporting a 1.65 ERA over his previous six starts since Aug. 4.
Cole already had allowed three runs (two earned) when he signaled for a trainer following a sacrifice fly by Toronto’s Reese McGuire for the second out of the fourth inning. After a brief discussion with Boone, Cole walked off the mound with the Yanks trailing, 3-1.
“I was out there for a few pitches trying to weigh the pros and cons, and I just wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through the inning,” Cole said. “You’re only one pitch away from making it worse.”
Boone said he appreciated Cole’s caution in that situation and hopes “he avoided something more serious.” No MRI is presently scheduled for Cole, Boone added.
“I know in talking to Gerrit, he feels pretty optimistic about it, something that’s popped up with him before,” Boone said. “Hopefully, it’s something he got out in front of enough and we’ll see where we’re at in the coming days.”
Cole was replaced by righty Albert Abreu, who got out of that inning before allowing a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien (38th) in the fifth for a 4-1 game. Cole also had surrendered a solo home run in the second inning to Alejandro Kirk, who went deep again against Clay Holmes in the eighth.
And the Yanks’ offense couldn’t pick up their departed ace, plating its lone run against Matz on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo in the third.
“Obviously, concerned about him and his health. You never want to see anyone come out of a game in any circumstance, especially our horse,” Rizzo said of Cole. “Hopefully, it’s a fast recovery for him. … Gerrit’s a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish here.”