ST. LOUIS – Once more, Aaron Boone’s boiling point was reached due to a plate umpire’s strike zone judgment.
On a stifling, 95-degree Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, the Yankees manager earned his sixth ejection of the year, coming in the top of the fifth inning.
Completing a frustrating afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals finished off a three-game sweep with a 12-9 victory before 46,472 fans.
Several thousand people had already left the ballpark before the conclusion of a game that lasted four hours and 25 minutes. It was the longest nine-inning game in MLB this season.
Leading the NL Central division, St. Louis (60-48) held a one-run lead in the eighth before Paul DeJong's latest big hit of the series, a three-run homer off Scott Effross, provided a four-run cushion.
The Yankees (70-39) have lost five straight games, all of them since Tuesday's MLB trade deadline, and they received a disappointing debut outing by starter Frankie Montas, who lasted three innings and yielded six runs.
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"We've lost some of the games that we were winning all the time,'' said Boone before the game, on what has become a 9-16 stretch since July 9.
"We need to lock it in and start winning some of those games we know we're capable of winning,'' and Sunday's game qualified; the Yanks out-hit the Cards 16-11 and left 12 men on base, seven in scoring position.
Coupled with Toronto's victory, the Yankees lead the AL East by 9.5 games, but it's the first time they haven't led the division by double digits since June 15.
Boone wasn’t the only Yankee upset with veteran umpire Ed Hickox’s interpretation of the zone, with DJ LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson reacting to called strikes.
Boone’s anger began bubbling in the Yankees’ half of the fifth, during an at-bat where Marwin Gonzalez – batting with the bases loaded and nobody out – was struck out looking at a breaking pitch.
After Aaron Judge’s two-run double off the center field wall tied the game at 6-6, Matt Carpenter took a wide 1-0 pitch that was called a strike.
That was the pitch that detonated Boone, who came out of the dugout, towel around his neck, and lit into Hickox, who had already tossed him.
Toward the end of his tirade, Boone moved behind home plate to show Hickox what he felt he was missing and clapped his hands loudly to conclude his statement with an exclamation point.
It was later announced that pitching coach Matt Blake had also been ejected with Boone.
Montas, the prized right-handed starter acquired at the trade deadline, arrived in St Louis on Saturday night. And Sunday's debut start with the Yanks was a forgettable one.
Pitching on 11 days of rest, due in part to time spent on the bereavement list, Montas blew a 4-1 lead and exited after three innings.
Nolan Arenado followed a first-inning RBI single off Montas with a three-run homer in the second. The six runs were the most Montas has allowed in 21 starts this year.
Before the game, Boone said that Montas was on a pitch limit (he threw 64). This was Montas’ third start since missing two turns in early July, due to right shoulder inflammation.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Aaron Boone ejected, New York Yankees swept by St. Louis Cardinals