BALTIMORE — If the Yankees can’t admit their season is in peril after what went down at Camden Yards on Saturday night, they need an intervention.
With Gerrit Cole looking like a young Doc Gooden against a very bad Orioles lineup and the Yankees desperately needing a victory, their frigid bats and third baseman Thairo Estrada’s erratic throwing resulted in a killer 6-1 loss.
The Yankees’ 11th loss in 16 games turned the third base dugout into a funeral parlor. With the ballpark seats empty, words of encouragement are heard often from the players and coaches, and the Yankees were plenty loud in the early innings.
After the five-run sixth which included DJ Stewart’s leadoff homer and Thairo’s throwing error that led to four unearned runs, you could hear the rats gnawing on the third base dugout cushions. And the silence continued when Stewart, a former Yankees draft pick who didn’t sign, homered off Miguel Yajure to make it 6-0 in the seventh.
Cole struck out eight of the first nine batters but lost for the third straight time and is 4-3 in nine starts. In six innings he allowed an earned run, four hits and struck out 10.
As for the Yankees’ lineup, it was putrid and didn’t put together a real scoring threat until the ninth inning when DJ LeMahieu hit for Tyler Wade with two on and no outs. But the Yankees’ most complete hitter whiffed, Aaron Hicks flied to deep center and Luke Voit, their top power threat, bounced out.
In the past 16 games, the Yankees are 22-for-112 (.098) with runners in scoring position after going hitless in nine at-bats.
Gary Sanchez’s strikeout problems marched on with four whiffs in as many at-bats that hiked the total to an astonishing 48 against 13 hits.
The embarrassing loss cost the Yankees to gain ground on the AL East-leading Rays — who got beat by the Marlins but retain their healthy 5 ½ game lead over Aaron Boone’s free-falling club.
Clint Frazier’s eighth-inning homer to right accounted for the lone Yankees run.
So after wasting Cole’s solid outing, the Yankees turn to Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday and hope he can help them get a split of a four-game series they had to win three and didn’t.
Stewart, who was hitless in 16 at-bats this year and whiffed 10 times, put Cole and the Yankees in a 1-0 hole by driving a 1-0 fastball that was clocked at 96 mph fastball over the right-field wall leading off the sixth.
A throwing error by Estrada and a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases for Ryan Mountcastle. With the way the Yankees weren’t hitting, Cole needed an out to keep the deficit at one run. With his pitch count at 94 and Luis Cessa throwing in the bullpen, Cole watched Mountcastle deposit a 0-2 pitch softly into center field for a two-run single that made it 3-0 and put runners at second and third.
Rio Ruiz then pulled a slider inside the right-field foul line that upped the Orioles advantage to 5-0.
Orioles starter Keegan Akin left in the sixth with Frazier on first via a leadoff single to right in front of Sanchez striking out. Frazier went to second on Miguel Andujar’s fair ball in front of the plate but was called out trying to advance to third on a wild pitch to end the scoring threat by violating a baserunnning commandment: don’t make the first or third out of an inning at third base.
Akin didn’t allow a run and three hits before former Yankees minor leaguer Dillon Tate replaced him.