BOSTON – Six outs.
That’s all the New York Yankees received from their $324 million ace, at their most needful hour.
The fans at Fenway Park who filled the Tuesday night air with taunts of “Gerrrr-it, Gerrrr-it’’ were momentarily stunned as Gerrit Cole exited in the third inning.
A difficult decision, but one I feel I needed to make,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Home runs by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and designated hitter Kyle Schwarber added up to an early 3-0 lead against Cole, who was “sick to my stomach’’ for failing to come through.
The Red Sox danced off with a 6-2 win in the elimination AL wild card game.
“That’s the guy they gave all that money to. He’s the ace,” Bogaerts said of the Red Sox’s joy in seeing Cole’s early departure. Still, “everyone coming out of that bullpen is throwing 95-plus.”
Turns out, the Red Sox’s battered bullpen won that battle, too.
As a team, “it’s the worst feeling in the world,” Cole said of “not achieving your ultimate goal.’’
As for being lifted after 12 batters, Cole offered that “we needed to get a ground ball double play right there,’’ and offered that Clay Holmes (who did it) was among those equipped for the job.
Cole hadn’t been the same since his hamstring tightened up in a Sept. 7 start, pitching to a 6.35 ERA over his last four regular-season starts.
“When it’s all said and done, I didn’t perform the way I wanted to perform,” said Cole, adding that his hamstring was not a reason for his ineffectiveness.
And after a two-out walk on a full count to Rafael Devers, a two-run homer by Bogaerts in the first and a solo shot in the third by Schwarber – well, this was the start Yankees Universe dreaded.
That made it seven home runs yielded by Cole over his last four starts, covering just 19 ⅔ innings.
“Guys are crushed,” Boone said after it was over, his fourth straight postseason exit as Yankees manager, without a contract yet for 2022.
“And tonight was another tough one to take,” Boone said. “We’ve got a lot of scars.”