BOSTON — There were no late-game mishaps or blown saves this time.
But it’s still hard to envision a more disappointing loss for the Yankees, who had Gerrit Cole on the mound Friday night at Fenway Park and were in desperate need of a victory.
Instead, Cole was mediocre, the Yankees squandered a great opportunity to add runs in the top of the second inning and the Red Sox’s Rafael Devers hit a pair of huge homers to send them to a 6-2 defeat.
With the loss, the Yankees fell to nine games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. The Yankees have lost nine of 11 games this season to their rivals.
They’re also five out in the wild-card race.
“It’s not an ideal position to be in, for sure,’’ Cole said of the deficit in the division.
To make matters worse, they lost Gary Sanchez, who left the game with back spasms after the fifth inning.
The Yankees took the lead against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez in the top of the second.
Sanchez led off with a walk and Gleyber Torres followed with a single. Brett Gardner then belted a double to center to score Sanchez and move Torres to third.
Rodriguez motioned to the dugout after the play and was removed because of migraine symptoms, replaced by right-hander Phillips Valdez.
With the Red Sox on the ropes, Valdez struck out Chris Gittens and hit Ryan LaMarre with a pitch to load the bases with one out.
But Greg Allen whiffed for the second out and DJ LeMahieu struck out looking to end the inning.
Just like that, the Yankees’ best chance to add to their lead was gone. Valdez was the first of five relievers to hold the Yankees down.
“With Gerrit on the mound, it didn’t feel like the game at the time, but they ended up being some pretty big runs,’’ LeMahieu said.
Cole then found himself in trouble in the third, walking two before recovering to strike out Xander Bogaerts and Devers to end the 30-pitch inning.
After Valdes left following three scoreless innings in which he struck out seven, the Yankees threatened in the fifth against Yacksel Rios.
Giancarlo Stanton drew a two-out walk and Rougned Odor drilled a fly ball to the track in right, but Hunter Renfroe made the play.
Kiké Hernandez hit a rocket off the Green Monster in left with one out in the bottom of the fifth, but it went for just a single.
Rookie Jarren Duran then crushed a shot to right-center. The ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, however, and Hernandez had to stay at third.
With runners on second and third, one out and Bogaerts up, the Yankees brought the infield in. On an 0-2 pitch, Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly to right, just deep enough to score Hernandez and tie the game.
Devers then hit a two-run homer over the Monster in left-center to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
Rob Brantly hit for Sanchez to start the sixth, weakening an already weakened lineup.
Down two runs in the seventh, the Yankees got a pair of runners on against Garrett Whitlock, but Stanton grounded out softly to short.
Both runners advanced before Odor came to the plate. Rather than walk Odor and pitch to Brantly, the Red Sox went after Odor, who flied to center.
Devers put the game away in the seventh with a three-run shot off Nestor Cortes.
“It’s frustrating,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “We understand where we are in the season and the calendar. I don’t think anything’s changed.”
Now the Yankees, who arrived at Fenway having won four straight games — as well as four consecutive series — can, at best, just split this series.
“We’re not looking at the standings,’’ LeMahieu said. “We know what’s at stake. We just need to keep going. I thought we had a lot of good things going on out of the [All-Star] break and we’ve had a couple tough ones here.”
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]