By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) — The Yankees took one of their most unique routes to the postseason, overcoming a scroll of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak after the All-Star break to crawl their way into Tuesday night’s AL wild-card matchup with the Red Sox.
Still, not even their ace pitcher, or an appearance by Boston heartbreaker Bucky Dent, could keep their winding season going.
Gerrit Cole gave up a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts and a solo shot to Kyle Schwarber as the Yankees lost 6-2 to their longtime rivals.
Dent, whose famous home run off Mike Torrez sent New York past the Red Sox in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker, traveled from his Florida home to attend the game. It was previously the only other one-game, winner-take-all matchup between the teams.
The Yankees were counting on his presence alone to help propel them into an AL Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. It turned out to be just another footnote in a season short on memorable moments.
Cole lasted only two innings, allowing three runs and four hits with two walks in his latest shortcoming against Boston. It was another lackluster showing from a pitcher who landed a $324 million, nine-year deal from the Yankees in December 2019.
Cole won 16 games during the regular season, but including Tuesday’s loss was 1-3 at Fenway this season. For the night, Yankees pitchers issued seven walks, and four scored.
The Yankees now head into another intriguing offseason as they continue to try to piece together a roster capable of ending their 12-year World Series drought.
Tuesday’s ending was fitting for a New York team that was inconsistent throughout 2021, tallying 13 straight wins in August and then dropping 11 of their next 13.
Along the way they lost several key pieces. Center fielder Aaron Hicks saw his season end in May following wrist injury. The bullpen took a hit three months later when lefty Zack Britton injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
There also were the unexpected absences of Aaron Judge, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr., Wandy Peralta, Kyle Higashioka and Gio Urshela after they tested positive for COVID-19 coming back from the All-Star break.
That was on top of the sporadic struggles of closer Aroldis Chapman, who had control issues at times.
The Yankees remained a threat because of their offense and did their best to give their lineup a facelift at the trade deadline by adding first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo. It bore some fruit, with Rizzo eventually supplanting Luke Voit as the starter at first.
Yet, defensive struggles by catcher Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres — moved from shortstop to second late in the season — were costly down the stretch.
The same was true on the bases, where Yankees runners made 22 outs at home plate this season, tied for most in the majors. That futility was on display in the sixth inning Tuesday when, trailing 3-1, Giancarlo Stanton doubled high off the Green Monster and Judge was thrown out at the plate as Boston executed an excellent relay.
The defeat set up a big offseason for a franchise that also must work out a new deal for manager Aaron Boone, whose contract ends following the World Series.
The Yankees are 328-218 in Boone’s four seasons and have made the playoffs each year. But they have only one appearance in the ALCS during his tenure.
It doesn’t appear Boone is going anywhere for now.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in July that he plans to keep Boone, general manager Brian Cashman, and the core of the team.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.