The New York Yankees lost the Wild Card Game with their arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox, by a final score of 6-2.
They had their powerful bullpen, two potent sluggers in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and their ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, and most people had them as the favorites to advance to the Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
But Cole faltered, and surprisingly, he couldn’t make it out of the third inning.
An Inauspicious Start
With two outs, Cole allowed a two-run home run to Xander Bogaerts in the first frame to set the tone for the rest of the night.
After an uneventful second frame, he conceded a long, hard homer to Red Sox deadline reinforcement Kyle Schwarber to make the game 3-0.
After allowing two additional men on base, Yankees manager Aaron Boone took Cole out of the game, somewhat surprisingly, but it was ultimately the right call.
Clay Holmes retired three hitters, two via a quick double play, to get out of the mess, but the damage was done.
The Yankees would get as close as 3-1, but third base coach Phil Nevin sent Judge home on a questionable play that killed the hopes of a rally in the sixth inning.
But back to Cole.
It was clear from the beginning that he didn’t have it.
His final line was two innings, in which he allowed four hits and two walks, with the three aforementioned runs.
He struck out three hitters, but allowed four hard-hit balls (over 95 miles per hour) in his limited action.
Cole has been huge for the Yankees, and every analysis should start by saying that.
It is not by chance that he is a Cy Young candidate in the American League, with 181.1 innings of a 3.23 ERA and 243 strikeouts.
Cole Let The Yankees Down
But he let the team down when it mattered the most: in an elimination game, against the Red Sox, no less.
It’s fair to point out that he may or may not have been limited by a hamstring injury suffered on September 7 (he claims he is healthy, but his ERA is over 6.00 from that point on).
But once again, the command of his fastball was off, and he also missed with his slider down in the zone, perhaps too much.
Gerrit Cole's final line:
2 IP + 3 batters in the third, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. He threw 50 pitches.
Couldn't figure out the high heater, couldn't figure out the low slider. pic.twitter.com/MDIHXIToR1
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) October 6, 2021
Cole is quite capable of pitching into the seventh or eighth inning and keeping the opposing lineup to the minimum damage.
Seeing him get hit and failing to control the strike zone like yesterday was not a good feeling for Yankees fans, some of the most demanding in the sport.
Cole understands what is like to pitch in New York, and knows fans are upset.
Hope everyone is having a great day, besides Gerrit Cole
— Bryan Brown (@BryanBrown8497) October 6, 2021
They have reasons to be, as he left the Yankees in a difficult position.
The blame, however, should also be on the Yankees offense outside of Judge and Stanton (and Rizzo).
They were, once again, a liability, and all factors contributed to the Red Sox advancing.