The Yankees’ 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night in the Bronx epitomized their inconsistent season and was cause for concern as pitching ace Gerrit Cole left the game in the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness.
Following a 13-game winning streak that began Aug. 14 and extended through Aug. 27, the Yankees had dramatically reversed course and lost eight of their previous 10 heading into the third game of a four-game series last night (Wednesday, Sept. 8) at home versus the Blue Jays. The 13-consecutive wins was the franchise’s longest streak in 60 years and the most consecutive wins in Major League Baseball since the Cleveland Indians won 22 in a row in 2017.
But the mounting losses have made the Yankees’ quest for a playoff spot much more perilous with just 23 more regular season games remaining. They were 78-60 before facing the Jays last night and essentially playing for a wildcard spot. It would take an unlikely collapse by the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays for the Yankees or Boston Red Sox to catch them. The Rays were nine and a half games ahead of the Yanks and nine in front of the Sox at the start of yesterday’s slate of games.
The primary objective of the Yankees should be holding off the teams fighting for the two AL wildcard spots. After the MLB schedule concluded on Tuesday, they held a tenuous lead for the top position. The Yankees were only a half game over the 79-62 Red Sox, two above the 75-62 Blue Jays, three between themselves and the 75-64 Seattle Mariners, and a slight three and a half better than the 74-64 Oakland Athletics.
They would be hard pressed to remain the frontrunner without Cole. One of the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young Award, Cole, who is tied for second in all of baseball with 14 wins—the righty is 14-7 overall—and was also second in strikeouts with 217 when play began last night (Wednesday), has lived up to expectations in his second season with the Yankees after signing a nine-year, $324 million deal with the club in December of 2019, the largest contract for a pitcher in baseball history.
He exited Tuesday’s game not wanting to take an unnecessary risk, uncertain of the extent of the injury. “I was sitting out there for a couple of pitches weighing the pros and cons and I just wasn’t quite sure I was going to be able to get through the inning and get some treatment on it to get back out,” he expressed to the media. “So unfortunately, I just had to pull the plug.”
“Right now, he’s just experiencing some tightness, so we’ll kind of see where we’re at tomorrow on it,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “I know in talking to Gerrit he feels pretty optimistic about it.”
After finishing their series with the Blue Jays tonight, the Yankees will play the Mets in a three-games series at Citi Field in Queens beginning tomorrow, face the Minnesota Twins on the road for one game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, then travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles for three games next Tuesday through Thursday.