New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is tagged out at the plate by Boston Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki as he tries to score on a single by Giancarlo Stanton in the sixth inning of an American League wildcard playoff baseball game at Fenway Park on Oct. 5, 2021 (October 6 in Manila) in Boston. AP PHOTO
BOSTON: Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees took a winding route into the AL wildcard game, squeezing in on the final day of a tumultuous season.
As their ace pitcher flopped on the Fenway Park mound, not even an appearance by Boston heartbreaker Bucky Dent could help them advance in October.
Cole was chased in the third inning after serving up home runs to Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber, and the Yankees were eliminated early from the playoffs with a 6-2 loss Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to the rival Boston Red Sox.
“Guys are crushed,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Tonight was a tough one to take.”
Dent’s famous home run at Fenway sent New York past Boston in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker, the only other one-game, winner-take-all matchup between the teams. The former shortstop traveled from his Florida home to attend this one, and the Yankees were hoping his presence alone could help propel them into an AL Division Series against Tampa Bay.
It turned out to be just another footnote in a season short on memorable moments.
Cole lasted only two-plus innings, allowing three runs and four hits with two walks in his latest shortcoming against Boston. It was a lackluster showing from a pitcher who landed a $324 million, nine-year deal from the Yankees as a free agent in December 2019.
“A couple of big mistakes,” Cole said. “Sick to my stomach.”
Cole won 16 games during the regular season, but including Tuesday’s loss was 1-3 at Fenway Park this season. For the night, Yankees pitchers issued seven walks and four scored.
“This is the worst feeling in the world,” the right-hander said. “There’s nothing that really makes you feel any better.”
The Yankees now head into another intriguing offseason as they continue to try to piece together a roster capable of ending their 12-year World Series drought.
Tuesday’s (Wednesday in Manila) ending was fitting for a New York team that was inconsistent throughout 2021, tallying 13 straight wins in August and then dropping 11 of their next 13 games.
Along the way they lost several key pieces. Center fielder Aaron Hicks saw his season end in May following wrist injury. The bullpen took a hit three months later when lefty Zack Britton injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
There also were the unexpected absences of Aaron Judge, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr., Wandy Peralta, Kyle Higashioka and Gio Urshela after they tested positive for Covid-19 coming back from the All-Star break.