Clay Holmes has been so dominant that Tuesday night was shocking. The Yankees closer struggled a little last time out, blowing a save in the loss to the Red Sox, but Tuesday night he could not record an out in an extraordinary Yankees collapse.
The Reds scored four runs in the ninth and rallied to beat the Bombers 4-3 at the Stadium.
The Yankees (61-26) have now dropped a season high-tying three in a row. The Reds have won five straight and become the first team to be trailing after eight innings and come back and beat the Yankees. The Bombers were 48-0 when leading after eight until Tuesday night.
Nothing felt right in the ninth.
“You know when you get out there there’s a couple pitches that the sinker just didn’t feel right,” Holmes said. “There have definitely been innings where I’ve had to make, you know, adjustment and be able to make it. I just couldn’t do it tonight. I think it’s just one of those nights. We just couldn’t really get the sinker feel back and maybe I should have gone to a different pitch a little sooner, a little more. I don’t know. But I think you’ve definitely gotta learn from these.”
The newly named All-Star closer seemed to struggle to find his release point on his sinker.
He walked Tommy Pham to lead off the ninth. Joey Votto singled and Holmes hit Tyler Stephenson. Tyler Naquin’s grounder got past a diving Isiah Kiner-Falefa to score the Reds first run. Holmes then hit Kyle Farmer.
That was it for Holmes as Wandy Peralta had to come in and try to clean up the mess — and he almost made it out unscathed.
Peralta got a comebacker out of Donovan Solano and threw it to catcher Jose Trevino to get the first out at home. He then coaxed a grounder out of Nick Senzel to third and Josh Donaldson got the force out at home.
Peralta had two strikes on Jonathan India before the Reds’ second baseman lined a single into shallow center field to bring in the tying and go-ahead run.
Holmes, who had allowed two earned runs in his first 38 appearances this season, was charged with four Tuesday night. It was his second blown save in his last two appearances.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone wasn’t connecting the outings.
“I would quibble with ‘he struggled in his last outing.’ He walked (Xander) Bogaerts and put a ball on the ground and then had a 1-2-3 in the ninth so you know,” Boone said. “I think this is an outlier. We certainly pay attention to it, but I don’t think it was anything more than him just being out of whack tonight.”
Holmes took his first loss of the season, allowing four runs, the most he has allowed since the Yankees acquired him before last year’s trade deadline. He took the loss.
That overshadowed a dominant start by Gerrit Cole.
Tuesday, the Yankees ace, who didn’t have the best history against the Reds, scattered four hits, struck out 11 and walked one. He had 18 swings-and-misses, 10 on his slider. Cole threw 113 pitches, one shy of his season high to get through seven and give the bullpen a light night. He hit 101 miles an hour to strike out Mike Moustakas, his final pitch of the night.
It was Cole’s fifth scoreless outing and his fifth double-digit strikeout starts. He has allowed two runs or less in 12 of his last 16 starts.
Cole, however, remains 1-8 against the Reds, but lowered his career ERA against the Reds to 4.05.
The offense had handed Cole an early lead.
DJ LeMahieu led off the first with a walk and Gleyber Torres doubled. They both scored on Anthony Rizzo’s single to give Cole a lead to work with. They built on that in the third when Torres led off with a walk and scored on Josh Donaldson’s single.
That, however, was all they could muster.
Aaron Judge, who was out of the starting lineup for the third time in the last eight, pinch hit to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The slugger struck out. LeMahieu walked with one out, but Gleyber Torres grounded into a game-ending double play.
Cole shrugged off the loss.
“He’s picked us up so many times,” Cole said of Holmes. “So it’s a bummer we couldn’t pick him up tonight to be honest. Wandy gave it a great effort. The chips didn’t fall our way and we couldn’t scratch anything out in the ninth. Clay’s saved our butt a lot. So sometimes these nights are gonna happen. I think we’re gonna look for the next opportunity to pick him up. That’s for sure.”