Assigned with stopping the Yanks’ rapid slide, their ace was suddenly fighting another battle entirely.
“I’m trying to make pitches, I’m trying to work around it,” Cole said of Tuesday’s fourth-inning discomfort at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m trying to remember we’re so close to the most important games of the season. And I’m trying to get us through this little four-game skid, or whatever.”
At that point, Cole pulled the plug on his start, and “I’m pretty bummed about it,” the right-hander said following a 5-1 Toronto Blue Jays win before 30,164 fans.
As their ace exited early, the Yankees – who’ve lost four straight games and eight of their last 10 – had to wonder if they’d hit bottom during this dreadful early September.
And it has all happened on the heels of their 13-game winning streak.
Cole said it’s “tough to say right now” whether he might take his regular turn, or if he’ll require an additional few days of rest.
“You’re only one pitch away from making it worse, I guess,” said Cole, ultimately feeling it was best not to push it.
Cole is not currently scheduled for any tests, including an MRI, and he’ll “reserve judgment” on his condition for the next 24-36 hours.
In all, Cole threw 70 pitches and yielded two runs over 3.2 innings Tuesday on five hits, including the first of two solo homers by Alejandro Kirk.
Yankees’ bad timing
Sunday, the Yankees lost key setup reliever Jonathan Loaisiga to the 10-day injured list due to a right rotator cuff strain, their worst pitching nightmare – until Tuesday.
Cole, 30, had worked through hamstring discomfort before, including earlier this season.
Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Cole’s fastball had still reached 100 mph to his last batter, Reese McGuire.
But this time he “wasn’t quite sure I was going to be able to get through the inning” and into the trainer’s room for a wrap or a quick treatment to continue.
Cole entered Tuesday with four straight wins and a 0.73 ERA, with 39 strikeouts since coming off the COVID injured list.
And he did not encounter any physical trouble until the fourth, over-extending on a pitch to McGuire, who would deliver a sacrifice fly.
By exiting, “hopefully, (Cole) avoided something more serious,” said manager Aaron Boone, whose lineup is currently in full arrest.
At least, with the Tampa Bay Rays pummeling the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night, the Yanks (78-60) maintained a half-game lead on the top AL wild card spot.
But the Blue Jays (75-62), winners of six straight games, are now two games behind Boston.
Coming off a listless, 8-0 Labor Day loss to Toronto, the Yankees managed eight hits (none for extra bases) and zero walks.
“Bottom line is, we’ve got to be better,’’ said Boone. “If we’re going to be the team we hope to be, our offense has to carry that freight for us.’’
Meanwhile, ex-Mets lefty Steven Matz held the Yankees’ continually listless lineup to just one run over six innings.
Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with four fly outs, extending his slide to 0-for-19, and he might be the next Yankee to get a day off.
Boone sat the slumping Joey Gallo (1-for-25) and Gleyber Torres from Tuesday’s lineup.
Torres’ replacement, Andrew Velazquez, had two hits, a stolen base and played another sharp defensive game at shortstop.
“Hopefully, (Cole) doesn’t miss a lot of time,” said Anthony Rizzo, who drove in the lone Yanks’ run with a third-inning single.
“But if he does, it’s up to all of us to step up as a unit and pick each other up.”
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Gerrit Cole leaves Yankees loss vs. Blue Jays with hamstring injury
Source: Yahoo Sports