Yankees Thoughts: Clay Holmes and Double Plays End Winning Streak

The Yankees suffered their worst loss of the season on Monday, losing 5-4 after blowing a three-run lead to the Mariners with one out and no one on in the ninth inning.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. When Jon Berti ended the fourth inning by hitting into a double play with the bases loaded, and when Giancarlo Stanton hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning with runners on the corners, and when Stanton again ended the seventh inning with a double play with the bases loaded, I figured those three enormous missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Yankees later in the game. But after the Yankees were able to extend their 3-1 lead to 4-1 going into the ninth, I brushed those fears aside. There was no way the anemic Mariners offense was going to score three runs with three outs left to play with.

I was wrong. They scored four.

2. With one out and no one on, the Mariners soft contacted Clay Holmes all the way to a blown save and then a loss. It started with a Julio Rodriguez swinging bunt in front of home after Holmes couldn’t put him away with two strikes. Then it was Cal Raleigh drawing a walk after Holmes couldn’t put him away with two strikes either. Luke Riley hit a slow roller to second that Gleyber Torres sloppily threw away as Anthony Rizzo gave the least amount of effort possible to keep the ball from getting by him. Mitch Haniger blooped a single into no man’s land between Aaron Judge and Juan Soto and Dylan Moore drew a walk after being behind 0-2 in the count. Dominic Canzone tied the game with a sacrifice fly to the wall in right and Ty France gave the Mariners the lead with a single up the middle. Holmes faced eight batters, retired one, walked two, gave up four hits and four runs.

“That one’s on me,” Holmes said.

3. The loss felt very much like the Yankees loss to the Reds at the Stadium on July 12, 2022 when Holmes entered in the ninth with a 3-0 lead, faced five batters, hit two of them, walked another and gave up two hits. He didn’t record an out, allowed four runs and the Yankees’ 3-0 ninth-inning lead became a 4-3 loss.

“My stuff, I thought it was good enough tonight,” Holmes said. “I just didn’t make the pitch when I needed to.”

4. Anyone who has watched every Holmes appearance this season knows he hasn’t been as good as his 0.00 ERA (entering last night) suggested. He needed Soto to throw out a runner at the plate in his very first appearance on Opening Day to prevent a blown save. He has been on the fortunate end of line drives being hit right at Yankees infielders to double off runners. He has been lucky to have as many ground balls hit at fielders as he has had. The luck wore off on Monday, and the result was a disastrous loss. The Yankees have only lost 16 games this season, but this one to the Mariners was easily the worst.

5. It’s hard to be overly upset (except if you had the Yankees’ money line like I did), considering the team’s record and Holmes’ overall performance through this point in the season. Winners of seven straight, the Yankees weren’t going to win every game for the rest of the season, but it would have been nice if their next loss was because their starting pitcher laid an egg or their offense no-showed and not an excruciating, painful ninth-inning loss in which they had a three-run lead with two outs to go and no one on.

6. The loss was a reminder of what it’s like to have a closer who relies on ground balls and not strikeouts to generate outs. If you allow the ball to be put in play, bad things can happen. There have been a lot of soft contact hits against Holmes this year, though, prior to Monday, he always found a way to get out of the inning before the game was ruined, either by making pitches or getting lucky. Against the Mariners, he couldn’t make pitches, couldn’t put away three hitters with two strikes and couldn’t get lucky.

“I was ahead on a couple of guys there 0-2, 1-2, and put them on base,” Holmes said. “They could hav been big outs.”

I’m not upset that ground balls found holes, Rodriguez reached on a swinging bunt or Haniger blooped a ball perfectly between two fielders. I’m upset that Holmes walked two batters with a three-run lead.

7. Because the Mariners rely on their pitching and lack offense, it’s likely all four games in this series will be close. Holmes pitched on Sunday, so him pitching on Monday meant by the idiotic Yankees rules, he wasn’t going to pitch on Tuesday no matter what. Because he threw 31 pitches, he probably won’t be available on Wednesday either. Not only did Holmes ruin Monday’s game, but the Yankees lost and now don’t have their closer for at least the next two games.

The Yankees will have Luke Weaver available though, and somehow Weaver went from barely being a major leaguer to now being the Yankees’ latest version of Jonathan Loaisiga or Michael King. This is Weaver’s line over his last 11 appearances: 18 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 24 K. He’s throwing strikes, missing bats, not walking anyone and hasn’t allowed a run for the equivalent of two games.

8. “To be honest, it’s baseball,” Marcus Stroman said. “It was very weak contact. Essentially, if they hit the ball harder on some of those plays, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Stroman is right, and he said all the rights things even after having to watch his 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball disappear in the ninth. It was the longest Stroman has pitched into a game this season through 10 starts.

“He was dealing,” Aaron Boone said. “He had it all going.”

9. When disaster strikes the Yankees on the field, Torres is usually involved, and he was again in the ninth inning of this one. After fielding a slow roller that should have been put in his back pocket, Torres threw off balance to the left of Rizzo, whose picking ability has evaded him this season. It was a losing play by a losing play in what was a horrible loss. Torres did make up for it at the plate by going 0-for-3 with a walk.

10. The Yankees left 13 runners on in the game (the Mariners only left five). They hit into three double plays (two from Stanton and one from Berti) and were caught stealing on both of their steal attempts (one by Anthony Volpe and one by Berti). The offense was sloppy and Holmes’ meltdown was the cherry on top of a wildly frustrating night.

“A loss is a loss,” Judge said. “You’ve got one of the best closers in the game, and stuff like that is bound to happen at some point.”

Holmes 0.00 ERA is gone. The Yankees’ perfect record of 28-0 when leading after eight innings is over. The seven-game winning streak is no more. Start a new one on Tuesday.