BOSTON — The Yankees came to Boston winners of seven of nine, with Aaron Boone pleased with the team’s “swagger” coming out of a strong homestand.
They apparently left that in The Bronx, as they got swept out of Fenway Park with a 9-2 loss on Sunday — and Gerrit Cole getting pounded in the process.
The Yankees have lost all six meetings with Boston this season, quickly becoming an afterthought in the AL East.
Cole was knocked around for four runs in a disastrous first inning, out-pitched by left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the game with a 6.07 ERA.
The problems started immediately for Cole and the Yankees.
After Rodriguez retired the side in order in the top of the first, Cole had his first pitch of the game hit out by Kiké Hernandez. The shot over the Green Monster set the tone for the day.
Alex Verdugo followed with a double to right-center and Cole walked J.D. Martinez.
After getting Xander Bogaerts on a fly ball to left-center — on which Miguel Andujar threw to third, allowing both Verdugo and Martinez to move up — Cole gave up his second homer of the inning, a 451-foot blast to right by Rafael Devers, as Boston took a 4-0 lead just five batters into the game.
Cole crouched behind the mound to collect himself, but it was too late.
The Yankees had first and second and one out in the third after singles by Kyle Higashioka and DJ LeMahieu, but Aaron Judge struck out looking and second baseman Marwin Gonzalez robbed Luke Voit of an RBI single with a terrific play, shifted to the left side of second base to end the inning.
Cole ran into more trouble in the third, with Martinez crushing a long homer to center.
Gleyber Torres, struggling at the plate, had an ugly day at shortstop, where he made a throwing error on a Bogaerts’ infield single to send him to second. Bogaerts scored on a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly to put the Red Sox up 6-0.
Cole gave up six runs — five earned — in five innings and has given up five earned runs in three of his last eight starts as he deals with MLB’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances.
Rodriguez, who had an 8.29 ERA over his previous seven starts, pitched five scoreless innings before LeMahieu led off the sixth with a single and Judge hit a two-run homer.
Andujar walked with one out in the seventh and Clint Frazier singled to bring up pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez against former Yankee prospect Garrett Whitlock. Sanchez walked to load the bases for LeMahieu, who struck out looking. Judge followed by popping to first and the Yankees stayed down by four runs as their inability to produce with runners in scoring position helped doom them again.
Mixed in was another shoddy play at short by Torres on a Danny Santana grounder in the fourth that was initially ruled an error but later changed to a hit. And in addition to Andujar’s issues in left, Clint Frazier, playing right, threw the ball to no one on the Vazquez sacrifice fly in the third, with the Yankees fortunate Hunter Renfroe didn’t move to second on the play.
The Yankees are now 21-23 against teams above .500, have a negative run differential and are in the midst of their fourth losing streak of three or more games in less than a month.