Yankees’ Clay Holmes hangs on for save despite lack of control

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Holmes was often completely dominant this season, en route to pitching 17¹/₃ innings without allowing an earned run.

That wasn’t the case Friday night, but the Yankees closer lived to tell about it.

Holmes lost command of his sinker, but it didn’t affect the game and he left the bases loaded for a 2-0 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Clay Holmes pitches in the Yankees’ victory over the Rays on May 10, 2024. Getty Images

Holmes, who walked just one batter in the first 16 games of the season, threw two free passes on Friday and also had a single with two outs and the bases loaded.

But he used a sweeper to strike out Johnny DeLuca, making his third punchout and earning his 12th save of the season.

“My slider has been good all year,” Holmes said. “I think tonight was one of those situations where I had to put in a little more effort. The sinker, the movement was there, but I just couldn’t quite command it like I used to. …Cut off the edge. Sometimes it doesn’t cut out, and sometimes I don’t. Because of that, I had to rely on the slider, and I pitched with it.”

Manager Aaron Boone had Ian Hamilton warm up in the bullpen, but said he would only go to him if Holmes’ pitch count got out of hand.

Clay Holmes celebrates after the Yankees' victory over the Rays on May 10, 2024.
Clay Holmes celebrates after the Yankees’ victory over the Rays on May 10, 2024. AP

Instead, his 34th pitch of the night ended the game.

“I was riding him,” Boone said. “We could have given them another batter.”

When Boone broke the news to Ron Marinaccio on Thursday night that he had the option to return to Triple-A, the Yankees reliever was “understandably upset,” the manager said.

Marinaccio pitched well in Thursday’s game against the Astros, pitching nine scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 1.42, but he became the Yankees’ oddball on Friday in place of Nick Vardy, who returned from the disabled list.

Rather than send out another arm and risk losing him to waivers, the Yankees designated Marinaccio to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in order to maintain as much pitching depth as possible.

“It’s a difficult conversation,” Boone said. “Ron’s in really good shape to throw the ball and he’s obviously performing well. … When you bring out a player that’s a high performer, and a player who has performed in the past and knows he’s capable, It’s difficult and it’s a difficult conversation to have when you send someone out. But I’m sure he’ll play an important role for us as the season progresses.”

Gerrit Cole pitches flat and is scheduled to have a bullpen session at Tropicana Field on Saturday, his third since being sidelined with nerve inflammation and edema in his elbow.

After that, he plans to return to Tampa for another bullpen session in the club’s pitching lab and “do some biokinetic stuff.”

DJ LeMahieu (non-displaced fracture) will also be on the trip, and is expected to return to Tampa when the Yankees head to Minnesota after this series, and is expected to move on to pitching soon.

On Friday morning at the Yankees’ player development facility, Jason Dominguez (UCL surgeon) caught a fly ball in the outfield and threw it from about 90 feet. He is scheduled to throw to base Saturday for the first time in his rehabilitation process. Dominguez is scheduled to begin rehab later this month, initially returning as a DH.

Scott Efros (who is rehabbing from back surgery and Tommy John) was also playing catch.

Regarding the signing of former Yankees forward Clint Frazier to the Atlantic League’s Charleston Dirty Birds, Boone said, “He deserves credit for continuing his quest. It can never be closed.”

The Yankees transferred Oswaldo Peraza’s rehab assignment to Double-A Somerset on Friday. The infielder went 2-for-5 with one home run and two walks in his first two rehab games with Single-A Tampa.