Gerrit Cole lost it quickly Wednesday. In what had been billed as a battle of the Yankees ace and the one that got away, Cole got hammered. He let it snowball on him early and the Bombers couldn’t dig themselves out against new Seattle ace Luis Castillo.
The Mariners routed the Yankees 7-3 in a matinee at the Stadium to clinch the three-game series.
The Yankees (70-36) have lost two straight games and lost their sixth series of the season. The Mariners (57-49) won their first series in their last 10 against the Bombers.
“It’s kind of hard to believe how much it just blows up so quick,” Cole lamented after the game. “I’m trying to be excellent out there and obviously not. Obviously, the game is letting us know we’re not there.
“So we gotta keep grinding,” Cole said. “I mean it doesn’t feel good. We let a series get away from us because of a very poor first inning today and that’s on me.”
Cole allowed six runs, just one shy of his season-high, on seven hits, including three home runs. He walked one and struck out eight.
Cole gave up all six runs in the first inning, the most he has ever allowed in an inning. Adam Frazier hit a leadoff single off him and he walked Jesse Winkler. Eugenio Suarez crushed a hanging slider for a three-run homer to left field. Carlos Santana then turned on a four-seam fastball for a solo shot. It was the second time this season the Mariners have hit homers in back-to-back at-bats.
But they were not done.
After getting Kyle Lewis to strike out, former Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic hammered a changeup for a two-run shot, his fourth of the season.
“I think it’s sometimes easier to remember the bad stuff than it is the good stuff, but there were some bad pitch selections,” Cole said. “There were some bad pitches. And, we got punished for it again.”
Cole got 12 swings and misses on his four-seam fastball, a pitch he and Kyle Higashioka said they should have leaned on earlier.
“Obviously, we started off with the unfortunate seeing-eye single, but then it spiraled a little bit out of control,” the catcher said. “And looking back, I think we could use the fastball a little more.”
When Cole and Higashioka adjusted to what the catcher described as “passive hitters,” they retired 17 of the final 19 batters they faced. Cole did get through six innings to save the bullpen some heavy lifting.
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Inconsistent is how Cole’s season has gone. He has flirted with a no-hitter and had five starts this season where he has given up five earned runs. He has allowed 14 earned runs over his last 18 innings pitched.
“In terms of the overall season, I’m looking to try to continue to improve. We’ve had good ones. We’ve had clunkers. We’ve gotten baseballed. But we’re trying to take all those things that we learned from those games and keep trying to get better,” Cole said. “So the numbers are what the numbers are. We’ve got to be performing the way we want to perform to the level of excellence by the time October comes.”
The Yankees are betting on Cole and their thin starting pitching depth in October.
They had tried to get Castillo into that rotation, but the Mariners acquired him from the Reds. He allowed three runs on five hits, striking out eight over 6.2 innings in his Mariners debut Wednesday.
When the Yankees didn’t get Castillo, they pivoted to Frankie Montas, who they got from the A’s with Lou Trivino for a haul of the Yankees’ up-and-coming pitching prospects. After dealing away big league starter Jordan Montgomery Tuesday for injured outfielder Harrison Bader, there is not a lot of depth left.
“That knocks into our depth a little bit, but we’re able to add Frankie Montas which is pretty good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “[Clarke Schmidt is] going down to try and get stretched out a little bit to give us some more depth. We feel good about where [Luis Severino’s] going to be eventually.
“We’re definitely a little fitter based on yesterday’s move, but hopefully if we remain healthy we feel like we’re going to be in a really good spot heading down the stretch and what we hope is into the playoffs and beyond.”