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Yankees 2, Red Sox 6: Gerrit Cole meltdown, offensive no-show torpedoes season

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The Yankees season ends — not with a bang, but a whimper

Wild Card Round - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

You know, it’s sort of fitting that the Yankees’ season should end in this manner. Yes, Gerrit Cole threw a stinker, and yes, the bullpen allowed a further three runs. But the real story of this game was the offense’s no-show, the latest instance in a laundry list of similar such games this season. This team was built around the premise that the offense could outscore any opponent, and too many times that just didn’t happen.

This one got off to the worst possible start, with Gerrit Cole giving up a two-run shot to Xander Bogaerts in the first to put the Yankees in an early 2-0 hole. It was clear the Yankees’ ace just didn’t have it today, and shortly after a Kyle Schwarber solo shot in the third inning, Cole was pulled with only six outs to his name. The offense mustered only two runs on solo home runs by Anthony Rizzo in the sixth and Giancarlo Stanton in the ninth, while the four-through-nine hitters went a collective 1-for-20 with 8 strikeouts. In the end, the Yankees limped their way to a 6-2 loss and early exit from the postseason.

The Yankees came out with a hyper-aggressive approach, swinging at almost every fastball thrown by Eovaldi. Stanton cranked a loud single off the Green Monster with two outs that for a second looked like a no-doubter thanks to some cruel camerawork.

Cole looked shaky from jump street. Even though he retired the first two batters, the command looked suspect with pitches far enough from the zone to be uncompetitive or leaking over the middle. He walked Rafael Devers after going ahead 1-2 in the count, and then gave up a two-run dead center home run to Bogaerts on a middle-middle 2-1 changeup.

Courtesy of Statcast

You just cannot make a mistake like this to a hitter of Bogaerts’ ilk and not expect to get punished. And so the Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.

There was a brief glimmer of hope that maybe Cole had settled down in the second — striking out a pair to negate a one-out double by Kevin Plawecki. However, that mirage dissipated in the third. He gave up a leadoff home run to Schwarber on an elevated 1-2 fastball and then walked the next two batters. Aaron Boone had seen enough, yanking Cole from the game in favor of Clay Holmes. The reliever did his job, stranding the two runners to hold this one at 3-0.

The Yankees handed Cole the ball as their ace and most trusted pitcher, and he failed to deliver in the biggest game of the year. That’s now 18 earned runs over his last 19.2 innings pitched dating back to his September 19th start against Cleveland. He is only recently removed from a left hamstring injury that forced him out of his September 7th start against Toronto, and it is fair to question whether uncertainty over his plant leg has affected his command. Whatever the reason for his late-season collapse, the Yankees were hoping to ride their ace through the Postseason — a strategy they’ll have to reconsider. Cole’s final line on the night: two innings, four hits, three runs (on two home runs), two walks, and three strikeouts on a total of 50 pitches.

Holmes completed a second scoreless inning of work in the fourth, further proving what a shrewd pickup he was. Luis Severino worked a perfect fifth on 13 pitches. The Yankees offense finally broke through in the sixth, with Rizzo hooking a first pitch hanging curveball around the Pesky Pole to reduce the deficit to 3-1.

The Yankees did created another scoring opportunity, and it was the closest that they’d get to Boston for the remainder of the game

With Judge reaching on a one-out infield single that knocked Eovaldi from the game. Stanton then crushed a 400-foot single off the Green Monster. Unfortunately, third-base coach Phil Nevin waved Judge home as the ball was being thrown back to the infield and he was out at the plate by 10 feet. It was an unthinkable send with the Yankees down 3-1, and instead of men on second and third with one out, they were reduced to a man on second two out before Joey Gallo popped out to end the inning.

While it’s undeniable that Eovaldi has pitched well against the Yankees this season, it’s nothing compared to his dominant display tonight. The lone blemish came in the sixth on the Rizzo homer, but he was otherwise excellent. Eovaldi tallied 5.1 innings of four-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout ball, exacting the ultimate revenge on the team that designated him for assignment following the 2016 season after he underwent a second Tommy John surgery.

In keeping with a season-long trend, Boone left Severino in one batter too long. He issued a one-out walk to Bogaerts on four pitches, and then surrendered a double to Alex Verdugo to plate Bogaerts and extend the lead to 4-1 Red Sox. Only then did Boone call on Jonathan Loáisiga from the bullpen, but not before the damage was done. After a walk to Hunter Renfroe to put two on, Loáisiga struck out a pair to end the threat.

The seventh didn’t go as smoothly for the Yankees’ bullpen MVP, as Loáisiga issued back-to-back one-out walks to Schwarber and Hernandez. Boone went to Chad Green, and there was a sense of inevitability as he jogged to the mound. Even though he induced a Devers lineout, a Bogaerts walk and Verdugo two-run single put the final nail in the coffin.

As if to rub salt into the wound, Garret Whitlock came in to wrap this one up in the ninth. He was memorably selected from the Yankees via the Rule Five Draft, and was the undoubted best reliever for the Red Sox. The Yankees did collect a consolation run on a Stanton opposite-field home run. It was the big man’s third hit of the night — at least he did his part. That would be all, however, as the Yankees season came to a close on a lazy Gleyber Torres fly ball.

So that’s it folks, the 2021 Yankees season is in the books. I just want to take this time to thank all of you for sticking it out with us through this bizarre and ultimately disappointing season. The community that we’ve all created is what makes all this worth it. We hope you’ll hang around through the offseason, as there are endless questions we will attempt to answer. For now though, stay safe, be kind, and good night.

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