Yankees’ Holmes escapes nerve-wracking ninth to complete Rays’ shutdown

Jose Trevino congratulates Clay Holmes after his save helped the Yankees win over the Rays on May 10, 2024, in Tampa Bay.

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Yankees’ Clay Holmes faced a daunting challenge in the ninth inning against the Rays on Friday night, but he ultimately emerged victorious, earning a hard-fought save in the Yankees’ 2-0 triumph. Despite allowing a hit and issuing two walks, the right-hander dug deep and showcased his resilience, striking out three batters to preserve the shutout victory.

The ninth inning was a nerve-wracking affair for Holmes, as he found himself in a precarious situation with the bases loaded. Uncharacteristically, the usually dominant closer issued two walks, doubling his season total in the process. Adding to the drama, a timely single from the Rays offense only exacerbated the mounting pressure.

However, Holmes refused to falter, leaning heavily on his devastating sweeper to escape the jam. With the bases loaded and the game on the line, he summoned his best stuff, striking out Jonny DeLuca to secure the final out and silence the Tampa Bay threat.

Despite the occasional bouts of wildness, Holmes has been a model of consistency for the Yankees this season. Entering the game, he had yet to allow an earned run, boasting an impressive 1.04 WHIP and a 21:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 17.1 innings. His 12 saves placed him in a tie for the league lead, a testament to his dominance in high-leverage situations.

While Friday’s outing may not have been his most dominant performance, Holmes demonstrated the poise and determination that have made him a reliable closer for the Yankees. His ability to navigate through adversity and emerge victorious bodes well for his continued success as a crucial component of the team’s bullpen.

In a high-pressure situation with the bases loaded, Clay Holmes relied on his devastating sweeper to escape the ninth-inning jam. The Yankees closer struck out Jonny DeLuca with his third punchout of the frame, securing his 12th save of the season in dramatic fashion.

Holmes acknowledged after the game that the slider had been his go-to pitch all year. He said that tonight, he had to lean on it even more heavily. While he had the movement on his sinker, he admitted the command just wasn’t quite there like it usually is. He explained that sometimes those pitches catch the edges, sometimes they don’t. With the sinker lacking precision, he said he turned to the slider and was able to make some critical pitches with it.

“The slider’s been good all year,” Holmes said. “I think tonight was one of those situations where I had to lean on it a little more. The sinker, the movement was there but just wasn’t quite commanding it like I had been. … Sometimes they clip the edges, sometimes they don’t. I had to lean on the slider because of that and made some pitches with the slider.”

Clay Holmes pitches during the Yankees’ win over the Rays on May 10, 2024, and Jose Trevino congratulates him after the save at Tropicana Field.

Manager Aaron Boone had reliever Ian Hamilton warming up in the bullpen, prepared to potentially turn to him if Holmes’ pitch count spiraled out of control. However, Boone admitted he was willing to ride with his closer for at least one more batter if necessary. Boone stated that he was sticking with Holmes and would have let him face one more hitter too.

“I was riding him,” Boone said. “I would have given him one more hitter too.”

Ultimately, Holmes’ 34th pitch of the night sealed the victory, showcasing his ability to navigate through adversity and emerge triumphant in high-leverage situations.

Unlike Clay Holmes, Schmidt rolls on with confidence

On Friday night, New York Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt showcased his prowess by holding the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense at bay, allowing a mere five hits over 6⅔ innings. Schmidt’s remarkable display on the mound propelled his win-loss record to an impressive 4-1.

Throughout the game, Schmidt maintained his dominance, tallying six strikeouts and issuing only two walks. His stellar performance marked his eighth consecutive start where he limited the opposing team to three runs or fewer. Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo ignited the Yankees’ offense with a solo home run and an additional RBI, ultimately clinching a 2-0 victory for the team.

Yankees Scratch Across Run Against Returning Rays Starter

This thrilling conclusion followed Anthony Rizzo‘s pivotal moments earlier in the game. Rizzo initiated the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth inning. Then, in the top of the ninth, he seized an opportunity for insurance by launching a solo home run off reliever Shawn Armstrong’s first pitch. Rizzo’s offensive contributions, combined with Holmes’ tense yet successful save, propelled the Yankees to their sixth win in the last seven games.

In his season debut after recovering from an injury, Rays starter Taj Bradley returned to the mound with strength, holding the Yankees at bay for the majority of the game. The rejuvenated right-hander delivered six solid innings, conceding only one run on four hits while showcasing his knack for strikeouts, tallying seven against Yankees batters.

Anthony Rizzo was seen running during the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, May 10, 2024.
USA Today

Despite Bradley’s strong showing, the Yankees found an opening in the fourth inning. Giancarlo Stanton ignited the offense with a scorching 116.4 mph single to left field, advancing Aaron Judge into scoring position with two outs. Anthony Rizzo capitalized on the opportunity, delivering a timely single to bring Judge home, granting the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Throughout the game, Judge displayed his discerning eye at the plate, drawing a pair of walks, further bolstering his season total to 30. Additionally, he nearly added a home run to his impressive stats, launching a towering fly ball in the sixth inning that traveled an impressive 407 feet at a velocity of 108.1 mph. Despite the Yankees’ anticipation, the ball was caught at the center-field wall, denying them additional runs.

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