Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees strikes out during the fifth...

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees strikes out during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

After they won twice on their nine-game road trip, one might surmise that the Yankees couldn’t wait to return to the Bronx.

Maybe so, but their offense looked just as putrid at Yankee Stadium on Monday night as it had during much of the road trip as they lost to the Rays, 4-0.

The Yankees have scored eight runs in their last six games, hitting .157 (31-for-197) in that stretch. It was their fourth shutout loss in the last nine games. They have lost 10 of their last 12 and fell to 72-44, 10 games ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays.

Five Rays pitchers held the Yankees to seven hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts. They had one hit and one walk in the last five innings on Monday after being held to two hits in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Red Sox.

“We are getting shut down right now and that needs to change,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We need to score.”

Gerrit Cole took a tough loss after allowing one run in six innings, holding the Rays to five hits and two walks with six strikeouts on 104 pitches.

The Rays made it 1-0 in the fourth, largely because of a fly ball by David Peralta to deep center that was misplayed into a leadoff triple. Aaron Hicks misread the drive and turned the wrong way three times, and the ball ultimately landed a few feet away from him. Isaac Paredes followed with a single to leftfield.

Hicks had a chance to make up for that when he batted with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the inning, but there was no redemption to be had as he tapped into a 1-2-3 double play and was booed. He fell to 9-for-63 (.143) with the bases loaded in his career, wound up 0-for-3 and finished the game with five hits in his last 56 at-bats.

Miguel Andujar led off the inning with a single, and after pitcher Ryan Yarbrough misplayed a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Benintendi, the Yankees had runners on first and second with none out.

Jose Trevino attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but catcher Francisco Mejia got the force at third. Isiah Kiner-Falefa lined a single to shallow rightfield and third-base coach Luis Rojas opted not to test Randy Arozarena’s arm. Hicks then tapped the ball back to Yarbrough. He fired home to Mejia, whose throw to first beat Hicks to end the inning.

“Bases loaded, I was trying to stay short and hit it up the middle and I end up cueing it right back to the pitcher for a double play,” Hicks said. “Just overall, extremely embarrassing, actually. Even if I’m not hitting, I want my defense to be on point.’’

The Yankees, who had eight baserunners in the first four innings, hit into three double plays in the game, two by Aaron Judge.

“Obviously frustrating, but just need to keep chugging along and know it will turn,” Anthony Rizzo said. “When you‘re up, it seems like you are never getting down, and when you are down, it seems like you will never get up again, but that’s just the way baseball and life is in general.’’

With two outs in the ninth, Lou Trivino allowed an RBI single by Jose Siri and a two-run single by Yandy Diaz.

“I’ve seen us put [six and seven runs] up there before you can blink sometimes, so I don’t ever feel like we are out of any games,” Cole said. “But at the same time, three seems a lot harder than it did a while ago.”

Boone said before the game that he doesn’t believe the Yankees have gotten complacent after having one of the best starts in MLB history. But when a team has lost 21 of 32 after starting 52-18, one has to wonder.

Cole laughed at the thought that a strong start to the season makes this skid feel less of a problem. He stressed that the Yankees feel urgency even when they are consistently winning.

“We need a spark, but it just seems to be tough to come by right now,” he said. “It’s just one of those funks. It’s kind of hard to put into words because at the same time, you want to remember all the work you did to put yourself in this position, too.”

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