Though Cole ran his tally to 61 strikeouts between walks, the longest single-season streak since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893, the right-hander surrendered season highs of five runs and seven hits over five-plus innings.
“It was one of those nights I just wasn’t as crisp,” said Cole, who was saddled with his first loss since April 18. “There were a few sequences tonight where I felt like we threw a really excellent pitch and followed it up with a really bad pitch. I just couldn’t string three, four, five pitches together in a row that I really liked.”
Adolis García and Willie Calhoun homered off Cole, who gave back a lead built on three first-inning singles, including Gio Urshela’s run-scoring knock. Texas collected three runs in the second inning off Cole, with García launching his 11th homer before Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino stroked RBI hits.
“He was just in the zone probably a little too much with some two-strike situations,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Credit to them. They were aggressive and got off some good swings. When they got a mistake, they were able to take advantage of it.”
That modest advantage proved to be enough, with the Yankees handcuffed over six innings by Jordan Lyles. The right-hander entered Monday’s start 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA over his previous five outings for the Rangers, but he settled in after a bumpy first inning, holding New York to one run on six hits and a walk.
“Lyles did a good job of keeping his breaking ball on the edges and down a little bit out of the zone,” Brett Gardner said. “He threw some tough pitches to hit and was getting ahead of guys. He kind of had his way with us.”
It appeared that Cole’s evening was complete after five innings, when Boone approached the hurler in the dugout and offered a fist bump during a brief chat.
“I was debating one way or the other, but I wanted to look at him and talk to him a little bit about it,” Boone said.
Cole expressed a desire to continue pitching. Boone agreed to let him face one more hitter -- García, who ripped a single on Cole’s 89th pitch and later scored on a double steal that included a throwing error by catcher Kyle Higashioka.
“I felt that I could certainly keep us in the ballgame and I was shooting to get through six, but I think Aaron had probably seen enough,” Cole said. “We’ll just have to get better.”
Boone summoned right-hander Albert Abreu, who tossed three innings of scoreless, hitless ball, then was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Cole had not walked a batter since a free pass to the Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on April 12 in Dunedin, Fla., which brought him into this start closing in on the Major League record of 58 strikeouts without a walk, set last Thursday by the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes.
Striking out three in a row after a Calhoun double, Cole tied Burnes with a first-inning strikeout of Nate Lowe, then claimed the record by striking out Joey Gallo. Cole recorded two more punchouts before issuing a five-pitch walk to Gallo in the third inning, ending his run at 41 2/3 innings.
“That’s pretty cool,” Cole said. “I wish it would have come in a win. I’m kind of more focused on the fact that we lost.”
With 85 strikeouts against five walks in 57 2/3 innings this year, Cole’s 0.78 WHIP is second in the American League to the Orioles’ John Means (0.71).
“Incredible,” Higashioka said. “For me, he’s the best pitcher in the game. I’m lucky to be able to see him go out there and do his thing almost every time. What he does is really special.”
Luke Voit offered an encouraging sign for the Yanks’ slumbering offense in the eighth inning, launching his first home run of the season. Last year’s Major League leader with 22 homers, Voit started the year on the injured list while recovering from left knee surgery performed in late March.
“I feel good about where Luke is,” Boone said. “Physically, he looks really good. I feel like he’s on time for the most part. The last few games, we’ve really started to see him hit the ball hard. It’s definitely nice to get that first one out of the way.”