|Gerrit Cole pitching to Jonathan India in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had one of his best starts of the season and appeared well on his way to victory, but the Cincinnati Reds put up four runs in the ninth inning to win 4-3 on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
This was the Yankees's third loss in a row, after they dropped the final two games of a four-game set to the Red Sox in Boston, and their record fell to 61-26, now five games off the pace of the 1998 team, which was 66-21 through 87 games and went 114-48.
Cincinnati, who improved to 33-54, embodies the baseball adage "It's all about when you get a team," as they entered this three-game set with the Yankees after they swept the Tampa Bay Rays at home over the weekend.
Cole, who was recently named to his fifth All-Star Game as he has a record of 8-2 on the season, was superb, as he went seven innings, allowing no runs on just four hits and a walk, with 11 strikeouts, as he lowered his ERA (earned run average) to 3.05. The Reds only were able to get multiple runners on once, in the third when Mike Moustakas led off with a double, and then Brandon Drury got a two-out single, but Tommy Pham struck out to end the frame.
"Dominant" was how Yankees Manager Aaron Boone described Cole's outing. "I thought, once he got settled in there, he was dominant, you know, great slider. Early on there, you know, second, third inning, he found his slider and he was really executing with that. Had a great fastball going again, but that fastball/slider combination was pretty deadly tonight, and I thought once he got settled in after those first couple innings where he was finding his way a little bit, it was pretty dominant."
The Yankees jumped out to an early lead against Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, as DJ LeMahieu led off with a single, Gleyber Torres doubled, and Anthony Rizzo singled them in to make it 2-0. Ashcraft kept it there, as he struck out Giancarlo Stanton, and got Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks to both fly out to center field.
The Yankees added another run in the third when Torres and Rizzo opened the inning with walks, and Donaldson brought in Torres with an RBI single to make it 3-0.
Ashcraft went five innings, allowing those three runs on seven hits and three walks, with three strikeouts, and then Jeff Hoffman, Ian Gibaut, and Reiver Sanmartin each pitched a scoreless inning to keep it 3-0 going into the ninth.
After Cole exited, Michael King pitched a perfect eighth, and they turned to closer Clay Holmes for the night.
Holmes, usually reliable to a fault, didn't have it in this one. He walked Pham to open the inning, then allowed a single to Joey Votto before he hit Tyler Stephenson with a pitch to load the bases.
Tyler Naquin followed with an RBI single to bring in Pham, and Kyle Farmer was hit by a pitch to force in another run, as Votto scored to make it 3-2.
That was all for Holmes, who did not record an out after facing five batters, and in came left-hander Wandy Peralta, who got Donovan Solano and Nick Senzel to each ground into force outs, where the Yankees threw out at the runner at the plate, to give them two outs in the inning.
The Reds lineup then turned over, and Jonathan India laced a single to center to bring in a pair of runs and make it 4-3 Cincinnati. Drury struck out for the second straight inning to end the threat.
Alexis Diaz came on for the Reds in the bottom of the ninth, and he struck out Aaron Judge, who was pinch-hitting for Joey Gallo, and the walked DJ LeMahieu before getting Torres to hit into a double play to end it. Torres was originally called safe, but the call was overturned, just as Cincinnati had won a challenge when Donaldson was originally called safe on a double play in the fifth, but he was clearly out. For Diaz, it was his third save of the season, and Sammartin got the win to improve to 2-4.
Holmes, who was charged with all four runs, took his first loss of the season, and his record is now 4-1, with his ERA jumping nearly a full run, from 0.46 to 1.37, as he only allowed just two earned runs (three overall) in his prior 38 appearances.
Boone was asked about Holmes possibly being tired, "I don't think so, I would quibble with 'he struggled in his last outing' (referring to another part of the question), you know, he walked Bogaerts and put a ball on the ground and then 1-2-3 in the ninth, so, you know, I think this is an outlier. We'll certainly pay attention to it, but I don't think it was anything more than him just being out of whack tonight."
The Yankees also saw left fielder Aaron Hicks exit the game in the third inning when he fouled one off his right leg, and he was diagnosed with a "right shin contusion" and X-rays were negative.