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Gerrit Cole hit hard as Yankees lose to Rays again

Gerrit Cole of the Yankees waits for a

Gerrit Cole of the Yankees waits for a new ball after surrendering a second inning home run against Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rays’ domination of the Yankees continued on Monday night.

Tampa Bay battered ace Gerrit Cole for a pair of home runs in the first two innings. Rays starter Tyler Glasnow held the Yankees hitless for five innings. And the Tampa Bay bullpen — though depleted with seven pitchers on the injured list — warded off a late comeback attempt.

Added together, the Rays beat the Yankees for the seventh time in their eight meetings, this time 5-3 at the Stadium, to push their AL East lead to 4 ½ games.

Once Glasnow was out of the game, the Yankees made it close, with Gio Urshela hitting a solo homer in the seventh and Luke Voit adding a two-run shot (No. 13, eighth in the last 12 games) in the eighth. They brought the tying run to the plate three times in the eighth and ninth, but with Voit on deck, DJ LeMahieu grounded out to end the game.

The Rays dented Cole early with home runs by Ji-Man Choi and Kevin Kiermaier and then wore him down until he was lifted after five innings. Cole didn’t have a clean inning, needed at least 18 pitches to get through each of the five frames and was done at 103 total pitches. He gave up eight hits, walked four and allowed four runs, striking out seven.

Cole had gone 20-0 in his last 28 starts before losing to the Braves last week. Now he’s 0-2 in his last two starts.

“It’s eating at me,” he said. “[Against the Rays] certainly doesn’t ease the pain. Pretty much I’m pretty hard on myself and definitely know how important the game was. So I’m wearing it.”

“Command-wise, he was a little off, and not frankly by a lot,” Aaron Boone said. “They did a good job when he made a couple mistakes. Trying to go away to Kiermaier and I think he pulled it into the . And Choi is a tough matchup; he tried a back-door slider and probably got too much of the plate.”

The home run has been an issue for Cole all season. When Choi hit a two-run homer in the first and Kiermaier hit a solo shot in the second, it brought Cole’s total to 12 home runs allowed in 43 innings. He is tied with Toronto’s Ross Stripling for the most home runs allowed this season. Of the 20 runs scored off Cole this season, 16 have come via the long ball.

“It’s a little surprising,” Boone said. “I think that as we go here, hopefully that [number] continues to come down as he just continues to execute a little bit better.”

Choi’s was a two-out rocket into the seats in rightfield on a 1-and-2 slider. He is 9-for-17 with six extra-base hits against Cole. Kiermaier’s 411-foot homer came on a 97-mph fastball and landed in the second deck in rightfield.

Of being hit hard, Cole said, “Whenever I am over the plate, the hitter is very certain of what’s coming and whether that’s an approach or trying to get an edge with a tip or a good swing on a bad pitch — maybe a combination of all three — I can’t put my thumb on it, but I’m certainly aware of it.

“I think we all pretty much tip pretty much every game, one way or another. How many pitches a game? I don’t know,” Cole added. “Some days it might be four, five, six, seven pitches. Some days it might be more. Some hitters look for it. Some don’t . . . The point is there are several different factors contributing to the certainty with which guys are getting their swings off in certain counts. I’m looking to address that.”

Said Boone, “I think he’s frustrated that he hasn’t gotten the results in these last two games, but I think he’s in a good spot moving forward.”

Glasnow was virtually unhittable through six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out nine. His fastball hummed in the 97-98-mph range and he left a number of Yankees flailing at his off-speed and breaking pitches.

“[Glasnow] has about as good stuff as you’re going to find with that fastball-curveball combination,” Boone said. “And the challenge with him is really controlling the strike zone, and we left it. We left it a handful of times on that breaking ball in the dirt . . . You’ve got to be able to lay off pitches when he gets you to leave the zone, and we didn’t do that well enough tonight.”

Glasnow took a no-hitter into the sixth before LeMahieu beat out a long throw by shortstop Willy Adames from the third-base hole for an infield hit. LeMahieu initially was called out by first-base umpire Roberto Ortiz, but the Yankees asked for a replay review and the 27-second examination showed LeMahieu hitting the base just before the throw entered Choi’s glove.

The danger of any controversy was erased two batters later when Mike Ford singled off diving second baseman Brandon Lowe into rightfield. An error by outfielder Hunter Renfroe put two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Clint Frazier struck out to end the threat.

Glasnow exited with a 5-0 lead after the Rays scored a run in the fifth on Manuel Margot’s single and another in the sixth on Choi’s RBI single.

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