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Yankees 2, Rays 4: Gerrit Cole dazzles in vain

I hope it is nice outside where you are

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

If you came into Sunday’s game looking forward to a Gerrit Cole start, you probably got what you wanted. Cole looked every bit as good as he’s been to start the season, with a nasty 60-percent whiff rate on his changeup and not surrendering a single walk. If you want to know how the Mets must feel every time Jacob deGrom starts, it’s probably close to how you felt watching the Yankees squander such a sterling start from their ace. New York was swept at home by the Rays, dropping Sunday’s contest, 4-2.

My profile photo on this site has been a painting entitled “I Often Fall Prey To The Popular Fallacy Known As Positive Thinking” for quite a while, and I admit, I got my hopes up early that this would be a nice, easy blowout win. Cole threw just eight pitches in the first inning, and while the Yankees couldn’t manage to score in the first inning against Andrew Kittredge, Giancarlo Stanton gave the Yankees the lead to start the bottom half of the second:

Right after the big Stanton home run, though, the Yankees were determined to give away all their accrued goodwill. A pair of bobbled balls from Aaron Hicks left runners on the corners, a single and a sacrifice fly brought two men in, and even on the fly ball, a bad throw from Clint Frazier allowed a runner to advance to second. The Yankees were giving away free bases all game, and I can’t imagine how angry Cole must have been on the mound.

Fortunately, the defense settled down after that, and Cole settled in. After the second run crossed home plate, Cole sat down the next 11 Rays, striking out 7 of them. The Yankees didn’t exactly look alive, but Gio Urshela led off the fifth with a ringing double, and DJ LeMahieu brought him in with a single to tie the game. That would be the last real high point of the game, as only two other Yankees would reach base for the rest of the contest: Stanton and Kyle Higashioka both drawing walks.

Cole’s great day came to an end after two batted balls in the seventh, one from Joey Wendle for a single, and one from Yoshi Tsutsugo for a double, putting the Rays up 3-2 and was the end of the line for Cole: 6.1 IP, 10 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 2 ER — borderline deGromian. Darren O’Day allowed a home run to Joey Wendle in the ninth to complete the scoring for the Rays.

So where does the team go from here? They have the worst record in the AL at 5-10, their worst start since 1997, the worst offense and slugging percentage, and it’s not like the lineup is full of fill-ins and scrubs. The team gets the day off tomorrow before hosting another team that has sputtered early on in 2021 in Atlanta on Tuesday night. It’s only April, but the Yankees need a big series something awful, and it starts by getting the offense back on track.

Box Score