ARLINGTON, Texas — The phrase made the rounds — albeit not all that often — in the Yankees’ clubhouse whenever Mariano Rivera blew a save.
"Just shows he’s human," Joe Torre or Joe Girardi or Derek Jeter or others would say.
The phrase was all but certain to get a workout in the visitor’s clubhouse Monday night.
Gerrit Cole, on a historic roll to start the season, was inexplicably flat, consistently barreled up over five innings of a 5-2 loss to the Rangers in front of 28,040 at Globe Life Field.
"You understand this game is very difficult, even for greatness," Aaron Boone said. "You’re going to have [these kinds of games] over the course of a season."
This was Cole’s first by a long shot. After entering the game at 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA and 78 strikeouts compared to three walks in 52 2⁄3 innings, he allowed five runs and seven hits — both season highs — in five innings-plus. He gave up solo homers by Adolis Garcia and Willie Calhoun, both on 0-and-2 fastballs.
"One of those nights I just wasn’t as crisp,’’ Cole said. "If there’s one thing that stood out, it was the [inability] to consistently execute a string of pitches in a row. There were a few sequences tonight where I threw an excellent pitch and followed it up with a really bad pitch. The first homer [by Garcia leading off the second] jumps right out. Throw an excellent fastball at the top [of the zone], trying to go back up there again, and leave it over the middle of the plate."
Cole, who set a major-league record by striking out 61 batters between walks before issuing one to Joey Gallo in the third to end the streak, struck out seven and walked two. He had not walked a batter since April 12.
"That’s pretty cool,’’ he said of the record. "Wish it would have come in a win. I’m kind of more focused on the fact we lost."
"Any time he gets hit around a little bit and doesn’t have his best outing, it’s a little surprising," Brett Gardner said. "And we weren’t able to get a whole lot going."
The Yankees had only one hit after the fourth — Luke Voit’s first homer of the season, a shot to the second deck in left-center that made it 5-2 in the eighth.
The Yankees (22-19), who earlier in the day put Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list with a quadriceps strain, did little against starter Jordan Lyles, who came in 1-3 with a 6.63 ERA. He allowed one run and six hits in six innings, walking one and striking out six.
Gio Urshela’s RBI single in the first gave Cole a lead before he threw a pitch and also made it four straight games in which the Yankees scored at least one run in the first. They tallied nine runs in that span after totaling eight first-inning runs in their first 37 games.
Cole struck out the side in the first after a leadoff double by Calhoun, but his second inning could not have gone much more differently.
Garcia hit his 11th homer, the first of four straight hard-hit balls by the Rangers to start the inning. David Dahl and Isiah Kiner-Falefa each doubled to left-center to make it 2-1. Charlie Culberson hit a ground smash right at DJ LeMahieu for a 4-3 putout, but No. 9 hitter Jose Trevino singled to make it 3-1.
"I was having kind of a tough time getting in sync calling pitches to these hitters," catcher Kyle Higashioka said. "They were taking a lot of good swings and I wasn’t really being as unpredictable as I would have liked. They hit some balls hard early and it kind of caused me to second-guess our plan a little bit."
Cole, however, put it squarely on his shoulders, saying he recognized very early that his stuff didn’t feel the way it had in his previous starts. "It was pretty clear to me," he said, "that it wasn’t going to be maybe as crisp as we wanted it to be."
Poker-faced, he added later: "Oh, well. We’ll just have to get better."