Yankees fall to rival Red Sox in AL wild-card game

BOSTON — The ace stunk, the offense no-showed and the decision-making was nearly as bad.

Now the Yankees are going home after a 6-2 loss, manhandled by the Red Sox on Tuesday in the AL wild-card game at Fenway Park.

The Yankees’ season, which they often called a roller coaster, ended with a thud thanks to a career-worst postseason performance by Gerrit Cole and a lineup that didn’t give them much of a chance.

After winning their last six games against Boston — including a sweep at Fenway just over a week ago — the Yankees were outclassed Tuesday and it left them staring at another long offseason, their 12th straight without a World Series appearance.

And their two biggest current rivals, Boston and Tampa Bay, face off in the ALDS.

Cole had never pitched fewer than five innings in 13 previous postseason starts — and his two-plus innings matched the shortest outing of his career.

Gerrit Cole
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

After saying the left hamstring tightness that bothered him in September wasn’t going to be an issue, Cole quickly put the Yankees in a hole.

Cole retired the first two batters in the bottom of the inning before walking Rafael Devers after getting ahead 1-2.

It proved costly as Xander Bogaerts came up and blasted a two-run shot to center, just after the sellout crowd began chanting “Ger-rit.”

The 427-foot blast gave Boston a 2-0 lead and brought the Fenway crowd to life.

The hobbled Gio Urshela reached on a two-out dribbler in the second, but Kyle Higashioka struck out.

Cole allowed a one-out double to the gap in right-center to Kevin Plawecki in the bottom of the inning before he recovered to strike out Bobby Dalbec looking and Christian Arroyo swinging to strand Plawecki at second.

But Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the third with a mammoth homer to right to give Boston a 3-0 lead and get the Yankees bullpen stirring. Enrique Hernandez reached on an infield hit and Cole walked Devers to end his horrific 50-pitch outing, in which he gave up three runs — and two homers — in two-plus innings.

Clay Holmes entered with two on and no one out to face Bogaerts. Holmes got Bogaerts on a check-swing strike three for the first out. The right-hander then got Alex Verdugo to ground into an inning-ending double play to keep it a three-run game.

Holmes, a little-heralded trade deadline addition from Pittsburgh, also tossed a scoreless fourth, pitching around a leadoff single by Hunter Renfroe.

The rest of the bullpen, fantastic for much of the second half, looked gassed.

Luis Severino took over and retired the side in order in the fifth before the Yankees’ offense finally showed some life against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth.

Previously, they didn’t do much against Eovaldi, who gave up seven runs in 2 ²/₃ innings on Sept. 24.

With two outs in the top of the first, Giancarlo Stanton sent a shot off the Green Monster in left, but stared at it from home plate — apparently thinking it was gone — and was held to a single.

No matter, as Joey Gallo struck out on a check swing to end the 11-pitch inning.

Eovaldi had retired 11 straight until Anthony Rizzo took the right-hander deep with one out in the sixth to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Judge followed with an infield single, hustling down the line to beat the throw by Bogaerts from short.

Boston manager Alex Cora pulled Eovaldi for Ryan Brasier.

Stanton then belted another shot off the Monster, and third-base coach Phil Nevin made a bad send — likely influenced by a lack of faith in Gallo on deck — and Judge was thrown out easily after a throw from Hernandez in center and a strong relay home from Bogaerts.

Gallo followed with a pop out to third and the Yankees chance to inch closer was gone.

Severino faltered in the sixth with a walk to Bogaerts and an RBI double by Verdugo to put the Red Sox back up by three runs.

They added a pair more when Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green walked the bases loaded in the seventh and Green gave up a two-run single to Verdugo.

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