The Yankees were bound to lose their share of series in 2022, even if it hadn’t happened very often through the first half of the season.
But dropping two of three to one of the worst teams in baseball?
That’s what came to fruition on Thursday night in The Bronx, when the Reds beat up on the Yankees’ bullpen to secure a 7-6, 10-inning win and clinch the stunning series victory.
It was the second extra-inning affair of the three-game set: The Yankees (62-27) pulled out a 10-inning win Wednesday on a pair of wild pitches, after Clay Holmes’ ninth-inning meltdown allowed the Reds (34 -55) to steal the opener. Cincinnati arrived in The Bronx with the third-worst record in MLB.
“Tough losses, but we fought back always,” Aaron Judge said. “I wish we could have scored a little bit more runs early, especially tonight, but they got a good ballclub over there and they battled. Their record may show something different, but they got a lot of good ballplayers over there that battle at-bats, put the ball in play. Some good, quality arms and high velocity.
“It’s a tough one to swallow. You never want to lose the series. But sometimes you gotta tip your cap and get ready for the next one.”
It marked only the Yankees’ fourth series loss in 29 chances this season. They have now lost four of their last five games, with the Red Sox arriving at Yankee Stadium on Friday for the final series before the All-Star break.
On Thursday, the Reds (34-55) got to Jonathan Loaisiga — making his return to the Yankees after seven-plus weeks on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation — for four hits and three runs in the eighth inning, to break a 1 -1 tie. Then, after the Yankees (62-27) stormed back to tie the score in the bottom of the inning, Lucas Luetge was tagged for three more runs in the top of the 10th on a pair of doubles and a single.
“Just couldn’t put some guys away,” manager Aaron Boone said of Luetge, on a night when the Yankees’ bullpen was without some of its top arms because of recent workload.
Matt Carpenter made things interesting in the bottom of the 10th, crushing a two-run homer to get the Yankees within 7-6. But with two outs and the winning run at first, DJ LeMahieu hits a bullet to center field that landed in the glove of Nick Senzel. LeMahieu left seven men on base in his final three at-bats of the game.
With the Yankees trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth, they pounced on the Reds’ bullpen. Judge led off by crushing his 31st home run of the season before Gleyber Torres cranked a two-out, two-run homer to tie the score 4-4.
The late barrage of runs wiped out what had been a pitchers’ duel between All-Stars Luis Castillo and Nestor Cortes. Both tossed seven strong innings of one-run ball before giving way to their bullpens.
Castillo, one of the top two starters expected to be traded before the Aug. 2 deadline (perhaps even to The Bronx, with the Yankees suddenly having a hole in their rotation after Luis Severino went on the IL on Thursday), did not allow a hit through 5 ¹/₃ innings.
Cortes, meanwhile delivered a bounce-back effort after he had been tagged for four runs in 3 ²/₃ innings last Friday in Boston.
The only run Cortes allowed Thursday came on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Carpenter, starting in right field for only the second time this season, appeared to have a shot to throw Senzel out at the plate, but initially looked toward second or third base before throwing home late.
Cortes threw his hands up in apparent frustration behind the plate, but later credited Carpenter, who made a leaping grab at the right-field wall earlier in the game.
“I might have did some reaction behind home, but totally understand where he’s coming from,” Cortes said. “He’s playing his heart out out there.”