BOSTON — Nothing is coming easy for the Yankees these days. Clay Holmes blew his third save in his last 11 appearances as the Red Sox rallied for a 3-2 walk-off win in the 10th inning at Fenway Park Friday night.
In the bottom of the 10th, Tommy Pham hit a sharp ground ball that got past Josh Donaldson and scored the winning run.
That spoiled a solid, six-inning start from Domingo German and Aaron Judge’s 46th home run and 100th RBI of the season.
“Doesn’t matter how you lose, if you lose you’re not really too happy about it even though we’re in first place and still nine games up,” Judge said, referring to their American League East lead. “These are games that we should win … But it’ll turn.”
It turned on the Yankees about a month ago.
The best team in baseball back then has now lost eight of their last nine games and dropped to 1-6 on this road trip. It was their major-league-leading eighth walk-off loss (tied with the Red Sox) and their fourth straight extra-inning loss (6-6 in extras overall).
After getting Rafael Devers to ground out, Holmes walked Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo. J.D. Martinez’s ground ball up the middle tied the game and sent Holmes to the bench. Wandy Peralta had to come in and try to clean up.
“Anytime you walk guys late in the game they make you pay for it,” Holmes said. “So, I mean, it’s just something that I have to get ahead of hitters and my stuff works a lot better in those counts.”
In his first 38 games, Holmes pitched to a 0.46 ERA walking six in 39.1 innings pitched. Over his last 11 appearances, he has allowed 11 earned runs and walked 10 in 9.2 innings pitched.
“Struggled with strikes there obviously with Bogaerts, losing him, and then Verdugo, obviously, and then Martinez was able to put one in play through the middle,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So obviously that’s the situation we got to get the strike-throwing right.”
It’s concerning enough that Boone was noncommittal on Holmes closing games going forward. Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless eighth against the bottom of the Red Sox lineup and could be in position to take back his job.
“We’ll see. I mean, I used him in a high leverage situation tonight,” Boone said of Chapman. “So he’s going to continue to be in those. He’s thrown the ball incredibly well. So love what we’re seeing there. We’ll keep building on that. And we’ll see where it leads.”
The Yankees bullpen is once again walking a tightrope because the Bombers are struggling to score. They had runners on against Nate Eovaldi, but could not push them across. They went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position Friday and the 10th inning was their seventh consecutive extra frame where they could not score a ghost runner from second base.
“This was one of those games where I felt like we should have thrown some crooked numbers up there and had a chance to probably put that game away early,” Boone said. “I felt like we had Nate on the ropes a lot. He’d thrown a lot of pitches and was working hard. We had our chances and just couldn’t throw that knockout punch early.”
There are 49 games remaining in the regular season. The Yankees have fallen behind the Astros for the best record in the AL and their once 15-game lead in the division has been cut to single digits.
But there is still time.
“We’re in first place, that’s where we want to be. But you never want to peak too early. So all these games, all these situations, big moments like this on the road are just getting ready for games down the stretch and in the postseason, where we are playing games just like this,” Judge said. “So we’re not where we want to be. But I think I think that’s a good thing. We got a lot of work to do.”
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