By Larry Fleisher, The Associated Press
The offensively challenged New York Yankees made plenty of noise Saturday.
Just not with their bats.
Ace Gerrit Cole twice banged the dugout roof, shouting in frustration and getting booed after a rough inning. After a 15th loss in 19 games, 5-2 to Toronto, manager Aaron Boone pounded the podium with his right hand while talking about his team’s struggles.
“We can ask all these questions in regards (to our slump) until we’re blue in the face,” Boone said. “We got to go out and do it. I got to quit answering questions about this date and this perplexion. We got to play better, period. And the great thing is right in front of us. It’s right here and we can fix it.”
“It’s there and we can run away with this thing and we got the dudes in there to do it and we got to do it,” he said.
The AL East-leading Yankees fell to 9-20 since entering the All-Star break with a 64-28 record. After holding a 15 1/2-game bulge on July 8, their margin over second-place Toronto is down to seven games.
The Yankees have lost six straight series for the first time since 1995, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Held to just 21 runs in its last 11 games, New York will try to avoid a four-game sweep on Sunday.
Cole (9-6) hadn’t allowed a hit before the Blue Jays scored four times in the fifth. After he issued a walk to Danny Jansen and misplayed a grounder, Alejandro Kirk capped the burst with a two-run double that left fielder Andrew Benintendi couldn’t quite catch.
When the inning ended, fans booed Cole and television cameras picked up the right-hander, yelling, and punching the bottom of the dugout roof with both hands.
Cole blamed himself for the walk and fielding lapse.
“I feel bad about it if we weren’t in the rut that we were, but I’d still feel bad about it,” he said.
The reaction from portions of the crowd of 45, 538 were similar to Cole with boos increasing after Toronto went ahead and intensifying after the final out.
“We’re not winning,” said slugger Aaron Judge, who batted third for the fourth time this year. “I think anytime you don’t win boos are warranted.”
Jackie Bradley hit a two-run, go-ahead double down the left-field line, the ball bouncing off the wall and past Benintendi when he tried to field the carom. Bradley delivered after Santiago Espinal got Toronto’s first hit, a double two pitches after missing on a close two-strike pitch.
Raimel Tapia reached on an infield hit by beating shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s throw and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reached when Cole slightly slipped in front of the mound fielding the ball. Cole’s misstep allowed Guerrero to beat the throw and the original call was overturned when Toronto challenged.
“Obviously, I’m thinking trying to think double play,” Cole said. “I’m not 100% sure, but I got to try to at least give it a look. “
Kirk then gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead when he lined a double to left-center. Benintendi was playing slightly in, raced back, attempted a diving catch and the ball eluded his glove before center fielder Estevan Florial fielded it and threw out Guerrero to prevent a third run from scoring.
Matt Chapman added a solo homer in the ninth as the Blue Jays won their fourth straight. Toronto is 13-6 in the Bronx since the start of last season.
“He was dealing, no-hitter through four and then I think we were grinding him out good enough to get his pitch count up and kind of strung it together there,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said.
Florial hit an RBI single in the second and Gleyber Torres homered in the eighth as the Yankees got nine hits but went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“Just got to have a little better energy in the dugout to kind of push each other a little bit,” Judge said.
Before allowing four runs, Cole allowed two baserunners through the first four and was aided by defensive plays from Judge in right and rookie third baseman Oswaldo Cabrera.
Judge made a running catch to prevent a double by Bo Bichette in the second with his left shoulder crashing into the fence. Cabrera dove face first into the tarp in foul territory to snag Bradley’s popup and completed the play after his head hit the padding along the side wall.
Toronto starter Mitch White allowed one run and seven hits in four innings. Adam Cimber (9-4) was awarded the win and Yimi García got his first save.
Blue Jays: OF/DH George Springer didn’t play for the second straight game after fouling a ball off his knee while going 5 for 5 in Thursday. Springer was available as a pinch-hitter and hopes to play Sunday. … RF Teoscar Hernández was lifted after fouling a ball off his foot in the eighth.
Yankees OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendinitis) was expected to get three to five at-bats in two rehab games for Double-A Somerset on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Stanton could return as the DH as soon as Tuesday after facing RHP Luis Severino (right lat strain) in live batting practice. … 3B Josh Donaldson (stomach bug) was a late scratch from the lineup. … RHP Clay Holmes (back) played catch for the first time since going on the IL Wednesday and said he is feeling better. … Severino threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session after throwing 30 pitches Thursday.
Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (12-6, 2.71 ERA) opposes New York LHP Nestor Cortes (9-4, 2.74) on Sunday. It will be a special day at Yankee Stadium when former star outfielder and current team announcer Paul O’Neill has his No. 21 retired during an on-field ceremony.
Banner image via The Associated Press