NEW YORK -- — Marcus Semien homered again, Alejandro Kirk went deep twice and the surging Toronto Blue Jays beat the skidding Yankees 5-1 on Tuesday night after New York ace Gerrit Cole exited early with a hamstring injury.
Cole (14-7) was pulled in the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness after allowing a sacrifice fly to Reese McGuire that gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead. After the throw from center fielder Aaron Judge deflected off his glove, Cole motioned to the dugout and was checked out by trainer Tim Lentych.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Cole was not headed for an MRI and the right-hander said it was too early to determine if he would miss his next scheduled start.
“I want to make sure that I am good if I’m good or if I need a few extra days, but I was sitting out there for a couple of pitches weighing the pros and cons and I just wasn’t quite sure I was going to be able to get through the inning and get some treatment on it to get back out,” Cole said. “So unfortunately, I just had to pull the plug.”
Cole allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. After striking out 15 on Wednesday against the Angels, he threw 70 pitches as Toronto put together several long at-bats against the star right-hander.
“He didn’t look different to me,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “You've got to give our hitters credit because we were having good at-bats against one of the best pitchers in baseball."
Semien extended his career high with his 38th homer and seventh against the Yankees this year when he connected off Albert Abreu to open the fifth for a 4-1 lead. It was the sixth homer in six games for Semien, whose previous career best was 33 for Oakland in 2019.
Kirk went deep in the second off Cole and connected again in the eighth as Toronto won its sixth straight and for the ninth time in 10 games.
The Blue Jays moved within 2 1/2 games of the Yankees for the first AL wild card, and two back of Boston for the second. Toronto and Boston are tied in the loss column.
“Pitching, defense and hitting — we’re doing it all right now,” Montoyo said.
Steven Matz (11-7) allowed one run over six innings and matched his career high for wins. He struck out six, walked none and withstood several long outs to the warning track in his second win in New York this season.
“We’re having fun, we’re playing good,” Matz said. “You can kind of sense it. We’re playing important baseball in September and that’s what we want to do.”
Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI single for New York, which dropped its fourth straight. The Yankees remained a half-game ahead of rival Boston, which lost to Tampa Bay, for the first AL wild card. New York lost for the eighth time in 10 games since a 13-game winning streak Aug. 14-27.
The Yankees were held without an extra-base hit or a walk for the second straight game. According to the YES Network, that last happened in June 1962.
“We had some guys that hit the ball OK today compared to yesterday, but the bottom line is we've got to be better,” Boone said. “We've got our guys now and if we’re going to be the team we hope to be, our offense has to carry that freight for us. So we've got to get it rolling.”
Slumping slugger Joey Gallo was rested by the Yankees after going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts Monday.
Gallo is 1 for 19 over his last five games. The one hit was a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning that broke an 0-for-17 slide Saturday against Baltimore.
“Hopefully just a day for him to kind of catch his breath a bit and hopefully something he can really benefit from,” Boone said.
Gallo is hitting .130 (16 for 123) with six homers and 13 RBI in 35 games since being acquired from Texas on July 29. He has struck out 61 times with the Yankees and 186 times overall, 21 shy of his career high set in 2018.
Blue Jays: DH George Springer (bruised left knee) was held out of the lineup and is day-to-day. He fouled a ball off his left knee in the eighth inning Monday, and was on the injured list Aug. 15-29 with a sprained left knee.
After the game, the Yankees optioned RHP Brooks Kriske to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
RHP Alek Manoah (5-2, 3.63 ERA) starts for Toronto against New York RHP Luis Gil (1-0, 0.00). Manoah allowed two hits over six scoreless innings in a memorable major league debut May 27 at Yankee Stadium. Gil has tossed 15 2/3 scoreless innings in his first three starts.
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