Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post
By: Jayden Racca
With $325 million man Gerrit Cole on the hill, the New York Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Wild Card game ending their 2021 season.
This Yankees season was nothing short of a roller coaster for both players and fans alike. With every hill climbed, there always seemed to be an even further freefall. Whether it was the injury bug plaguing key pieces such as Corey Kluber, Luke Voit or Luis Severino, COVID-19 tearing through the clubhouse midseason or a simple lack of urgency at the most important times, it is safe to say that this team’s 92-70 record was not reflective of the talent that made up its roster.
Coming into the season as expected World Series contenders, the Yankees sputtered out of the starting gates sporting a 5-15 record through their first 15 games. They would never truly find their footing as they entered the All Star Break at 46-43 with the potential to act as either buyers to improve their roster, or sellers to build for the future.
Management proceeded to take a chance on the struggling Bombers as they flexed their big market muscles acquiring veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs and power hitting outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers.
The second half of the season was a story of inconsistency. They set a franchise record of 13 straight wins during this time as well as 10 straight series victories. Throughout this stretch, rookie shortstop Andrew Velasquez took over for the injured and struggling Gleyber Torres and provided a spark to this Yankees team that was much needed. They were going against their homerun-or-bust philosophy and were instead playing small ball.
Very much like most of their successes this season, this did not last. They would go on to lose 11 of their next 13 games, once again showing their inconsistency. However, the second half of the season showed one thing. The bullpen which was previously thought to be a weakness in this team wound up being their strength.
Many would agree that there was never truly a real feel for the team this season. The bats never got going, it at times felt as if there was very little fight within the clubhouse and a constantly fluctuating lineup made it so that nobody ever truly found a groove.
Despite all of this, they found themselves in a race for the AL Wild Card that would come down to game 162. In the case of the Yankees: win and they’re in. Fortunately, behind a strong bullpen performance, they found a way to squeeze by the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 and earn themselves a date in the postseason with the Boston Red Sox.
This matchup was certainly one to forget for Yankees fans. The 6-2 loss told the case of the entire season. Cy Young Award candidate and starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, who the Yankees signed for $324 million following the 2019 season for moments like these, laid an absolute egg.
He was pulled after just two innings of work and three earned runs allowed off two homers.
Aside from Cole’s disappointing performance, not much more can be said about this loss. The bats were absolutely silent as only four Yankees registered hits. The one bright spot came from Giancarlo Stanton who went three-for-four with two bombs off the Green Monster and a late solo shot around the Pesky Pole in right field.
Aside from an Anthony Rizzo solo home run, the only other chance for offense was waved to its death at home plate as third base coach Phil Nevin sent star outfielder Aaron Judge home in a controversial decision on a Stanton double. Judge would be thrown out at the plate, killing all momentum.
For the Red Sox, former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi got the job done on the hill being pulled with one out in the 6th inning. A Xander Bogaerts two-run shot jump started the offense in the first inning and they never looked back. Four more runs would be scored as DH Kyle Schwarber hit a solo home run in the third and left fielder Alex Verdugo generated three RBI’s on a double and a single.
This game truly exemplified the season that the New York Yankees had as a whole. Whether it was overall inconsistency, a lack of life within the team, or what is built to be such a dominant lineup simply refusing to hit, the Yankees did not deserve to advance to the divisional series.
It is safe to say that plenty of changes are on the way in what should be a busy offseason in the Bronx.