As the game’s final innings dragged on, the sound emanating from the fans left at the Stadium reflected far more resignation than anger.
Resignation to the fact that the postseason is taking on the appearance of simply not being in the cards in 2021.
On a day they had their ace on the mound against a team that has struggled offensively all season, the Yankees — with Gerrit Cole laying a rare second-half egg — went meekly Sunday afternoon in an 11-1 loss to Cleveland.
The Yankees (83-67), who lost two of three to Cleveland and are 5-5 in their current 13-game stretch against below-.500 teams, fell 2½ games behind the Red Sox for the first wild-card spot and 1½ games behind the Blue Jays for the second spot. They’re only a half-game ahead of the A’s.
After hitting five home runs while winning the series opener, 8-0, on Friday, the Yankees were outscored 22-4 and outhit 28-16 in the final two games.
"We have to do better than this," Aaron Boone said. "That’s an awful couple of days out there . . . We’re going to have to play better than this to have a chance."
Cole (15-8, 3.03) simultaneously did damage to the Yankees’ playoff chances as well as his AL Cy Young Award hopes, allowing seven runs and a season-high 10 hits in 5 2⁄3 innings.
Cole, who struck out seven, walked one and heard boos after being removed with two outs in the sixth, had been pitching some of his best baseball of the season, entering the day 5-1 with a 1.35 ERA in his previous six starts.
Of the team’s confidence level after experiencing many peaks and valleys this season, Cole said: "I build my confidence off my preparation and I was prepared for this game. I was feeling really confident and good going into it. I would assume we have a lot of true professionals who probably go about their business the same way.
"With that said, it still sucks to lose like this. It still sucks to really not have a clear and concise answer for what the problem is so you can go ahead and fix it . . . It’s going to be tough to shower off. It’s not going to be easy.
"It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to have confidence, but at the same time, we don’t really have a choice."
Cleveland rookie righthander Eli Morgan, who came in 2-7 with a 6.03 ERA, allowed one run and six hits in six innings. It was his fourth quality start out of 16 this season.
Cole began the game by hitting Bradley Zimmer in the right leg with an 0-and-2 slider. Jose Ramirez, who went 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, walked with one out and Bobby Bradley squibbed a grounder to third that just stayed fair for an infield single. On the next pitch, Harold Ramirez grounded a two-run single over first base past Anthony Rizzo.
In the third, after singles by Zimmer and Jose Ramirez, Harold Ramirez delivered his second two-run single. Both leftfielder Brett Gardner and centerfielder Aaron Judge tried to backhand his flare to left-center, but as Gardner flashed across in front of the diving Judge, the ball hit Judge in the left wrist before falling to the ground. The only positive on the play was that the two avoided what could have been a bad collision. Roberto Perez made it 5-0 with an RBI single.
Gio Urshela’s 13th homer, a drive off the top of the rightfield wall that ricocheted into the crowd — Harold Ramirez smashed into the wall on the play and had to leave the game with a shoulder injury — made it 5-1 in the bottom of the inning, but Jose Ramirez hit his 35th homer, a blast into the second deck in right, in the fifth.
Perez’s homer in the sixth made it 7-1. Two batters later, Cole was walking off the mound to boos, replaced by Lucas Luetge. Yu Chang had an RBI single in the seventh and Jose Ramirez’s two-run single off Clarke Schmidt in the eighth made it 10-1.
"It’s a bad game, man," Cole said when asked if he was surprised to hear the boos, given the season he’s had.
"That’s New York."
The Yankees have ground to make up in the wild-card race with only two weeks left in the regular season. The AL wild-card standings pending Oakland’s game against the Los Angeles Angels:
W-L Pct. GB
Boston 86-65 .570 +1
Toronto 84-65 .564 —
Yankees 83-67 .553 1.5
Oakland 81-67 .547 2.5