Clay Holmes blows Yankees 9th inning lead in 8-6 loss to Royals

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Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez (13) watches his home run go into the stands during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Sunday, July 31, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

It was the first home run that Yankees reliever Clay Holmes had given up all season, and it couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. 

With two runners on and nobody out, Holmes put a juicy sinker over the plate for Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez to hit over the center field wall in the top of the ninth in an 8-6 loss on Sunday Afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The defeat prevented the Yankees from sweeping the series with the Royals and raises more questions with the trade deadline just two days away. 

The Yankees are reportedly already working to try and add help for their starting rotation, but on Sunday Boone dug deep into his bullpen to try and scratch out a win. Holmes had been the fifth reliever the Yankees skipper had turned to and the Perez home run at 112.2 mph was the hardest hit ball the reliever had surrendered in his career. 

Holmes picked up the loss for New York, which was his second of the season. The Yankees closer had been dominant this year and Sunday marked just the second time he has allowed multiple runs. 

“Every wins important and it’s not a good feeling, especially when you blow the game there at the end,” Holmes said. “But it’s one of those things you have to trust your teammates around you and you have to show up the next day and prepare like you have been. Learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again, especially the same way.

“I think I’ll take the good and try to forget the bad and move on. Make sure I get the job done next time.”

The disappointing loss comes against a Royals team that had entered the series finale 14.5 games back of the AL Central lead. Kansas City had proved to be a scrappy opponent during the four-game set, holding the Yankees to just one run on Thursday night, but they had been outscored by the Bombers 19-7 in the last two games. 

The Yankees did make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when DJ LeMahieu singled and Anthony Rizzo walked. However, Gleyber Torres lined out to end the game. 

Starter Jordan Montgomery pitched well through the first four innings before the runs started to come for the Royals. The Yankees starter finished the day giving up four runs on four hits while striking out six. 

The outing lasted 79 pitches before he was pulled in the top of the fifth inning. Albert Abreu, Wandy Peralta, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Holmes and Lucas Luetge all pitched in relief in the loss. 

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, front left, takes the ball from starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, July 31, 2022, in New York.AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Just lost the strike zone for those two hitters. Walked then and then kind of put myself in a hole,” Mongomery said. “Try and just work middle and go off of that. I did and I gave up that hit to left and started unraveling from there.” 

Montgomery said he wasn’t perplexed at what went wrong because he walked two lefty batters, which he said that he never does. “Just can’t walk two guys in a row it comes to get you,” he added.  

The Royals broke the scoring drought in the fifth inning after Montgomery had held Kansas City to just one hit. After the Yankee starter walked the first two batters, MJ Melendez singled to load the bases with nobody out and it was then that the runs finally started to come. 

Nick Pratto sent a fly ball to left field that sent Andrew Benintendi diving to make the catch, but the outfielder couldn’t come up with the catch and two runs scored. Maikel Garcia sent an opposite-field hit down the first base line that drove in another run and ended Montgomery’s afternoon. 

One more run crossed the plate for Kansas City when Whit Merrifield grounded out to drive Pratto to score from third base to make it 4-0. 

The Bombers quickly erased a 4-0 deficit with Matt Carpenter getting a leadoff double and an Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounder moved the Yankees’ right fielder to third. A blooper to right scored Carpenter to get the Yankees on the board.

LeMahieu homered on the next at-bat to put a 1-1 fast 350 feet into the stands in right field to cut New York’s deficit to 4-3. 

Two innings later Rizzo gave the Yankees their first lead of the day when he took a 1-1  fastball 418 feet into the right field stands to put the Yankees ahead 6-4. It was Rizzo’s 25th home run of the season and came after Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge both walked to put runners on base. 

Marinaccio gave up a solo home run to Hunter Dozier on the second pitch of the eighth inning. 

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