Gerrit Cole may have tanked the New York Yankees‘ postseason chances and his Cy Young case in one afternoon. Cole got blasted in the rubber game against Cleveland on Sunday, surrendering a season-high-tying seven earned runs on a season-high 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. New York lost the game 11-1 (box score) and they are 7-15 since their 13-game winning streak.
With the Blue Jays beating the Twins (TOR 5, MIN 3) and the Red Sox beating the Orioles (BOS 8, BAL 6) on Sunday, the Yankees are now 1 1/2 games out of a postseason spot, their largest deficit since Aug. 15. Here are the wild card standings following Sunday afternoon’s games:
- Red Sox: 86-65
- Blue Jays: 84-65 (1 GB)
- Yankees: 83-67 (1 1/2 GB)
- Athletics: 81-67 (2 1/2 FB) (pending Sunday’s outcome)
- Mariners: 79-69 (4 1/2 GB) (pending Sunday’s outcome)
Cole fell victim to a few soft hits early in Sunday’s start, but by the middle innings, it was clear he did not have it working. José Ramírez and Roberto Pérez drove that point home with long home runs to turn the game into a laugher. The Yankee Stadium crowd booed Cole off the mound, though the boos seemed to be directed at the entire team rather than Cole individually.
Earlier this week we identified Cole as a player under tremendous pressure this month. The Yankees have played nothing but close games all year because their offense has underperformed, and now the pitching staff appears to be running on fumes. Cole is being counted on to not only win games, but also chew up innings to spare the bullpen. He did neither Sunday.
With Sunday’s clunker Cole now owns a 3.03 ERA in 169 1/3 innings, which is obviously excellent, but is enough to push him clearly behind Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray in the Cy Young race. Ray owns a 2.64 ERA with an MLB-leading 233 strikeouts in 177 1/3 innings this year. He and Cole were neck-and-neck in the Cy Young race for weeks before Sunday’s game created separation.
In recent weeks the Yankees have lost series to the non-contending Angels, Orioles, Mets, and now Cleveland. They open a three-game series with the Rangers on Monday before closing the year with nine games against the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays. The head-to-head games with Toronto and Boston give the Yankees a shot at October, though their odds are dwindling.