Karpin’s Korner: Cole Slay

by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/

It was like a role reversal from past chapters of this storied rivalry.

When Pedro Martinez was at his best in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Yankees game plan was to stay with him and not let the game get out of hand, while trying to get him out of the game by making him work hard and throw a lot of pitches, so their offense can rally against the bullpen.

The Red Sox dusted off the same blueprint against Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole as they made him work hard, throw a lot of pitches and wore him out to eventually knock him out in a 6-2 win.

MVP candidate Rafael Devers hit two home runs and drove in five as the Red Sox continued to smack the Yankees in the face with a dose of reality that they are just not good enough to be a playoff team.

It was the Red Sox who were grinding out the at-bats. It was the Red Sox who got the big hits when they got an opportunity. It was the Red Sox who got clutch pitching from their bullpen, including from a kid who was brought up from the minors. It was the Red Sox who are flashing wide eyed smiles and having a great time as they are thoroughly enjoying sticking it to the Yankees, who lost for the 9th time in 11 games against their hated rivals.

The Yankees led 1-0 in the fifth, but Cole’s pitch count was way up and the Red Sox took advantage of his strenuous outing. “They did make him work. That’s the one thing they did, they had some long at-bats against him,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said on the zoom after the game. “Even though they weren’t able to break through on him, they were able to ding him.”

With one out, Kike Hernandez, who is now 4 for 10 off of Cole in his career, smoked a single off the wall in left. Rookie outfielder Jarren Duran hit a ground rule double to put runners on second and third. Xander Bogaerts’ sac fly tied the game and then Devers hit the first of his two home runs, a two run shot to center field for a 3-1 lead.

Cole threw 104 pitches in his five innings of work and gave up three runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Cole’s last three starts have come against the Astros and the Red Sox twice, but the Yankee ace knows what he’s in for. “AL East. Tough division, we’re playing good clubs. We had really good stuff, we had really good location for the most part. It was like a tightrope walk and a little bit of slip up, it ended up stinging really bad,” he said after the game on the post game zoom.

The Yankees took the lead in the second against Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. After Gary Sanchez walked to lead off the inning, Gleyber Torres singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Brett Gardner’s RBI double plated Sanchez and the Yankees were set up for a crooked number with second and third and no one out. After that hit, Rodriguez looked to be in some discomfort and had to come out of the game with what was described as “migrane symptoms.”

Phillips Valdez, a lanky right hander who was recalled earlier in the day from the minors, replaced Rodriguez and struck out Chris Gittens for the first out. After Ryan LaMarre was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Valdez struck out Greg Allen swinging and D.J. LeMahieu was caught looking to end the inning and the rally.

Valdez tossed three scoreless innings and gave up one hit with seven strikeouts as he made the Yankee hitters look feeble. Yacksel Rios followed with two scoreless innings. Garrett Whitlock (the rule 5 draft choice whom the Red Sox chose from the Yankees) got out of a two on, one out jam in the seventh as Giancarlo Stanton grounded out and Rougned Odor flied out to snuff out another rally.

Darwinzon Hernandez and Brandon Workman finished the last two innings. Workman gave up an RBI double to Odor for the Yankees second run with two out in the ninth. Shockingly, that was the Yankees’ fifth extra base hit in five games at Fenway this season.

The Yankees went 1 for 9 with RISP and left 11 men on, a recurring trend that has literally “killed” them in many games this season.

The bad news didn’t end with the just the score.

In the 6th, Rob Brantly pinch hit for Sanchez. It was later revealed that the Yankee catcher was removed for back spasms and his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain.

The Yankees really needed to win three out of four in this series and have now dropped the first two. The loss left the Yankees nine games back of Boston.“It’s not an ideal position to be in,” Cole said.

“We understand where we are in the season, in the calendar. We know how important it is that we play really well,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said on the post game zoom. “It’s frustrating but we also have a four o’clock game tomorrow that’s really important.”

The Yankees are running out of games and the “we’ll get ‘em tomorrow” message is wearing thin.

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