Clay Holmes blows another save to sink Yankees in loss to Cardinals

The Yankees would have found a way, during the first half of the season, to win the game they played on Friday night.

This is no longer the first half of the season.

Closer Clay Holmes struggled for the second straight appearance, entering the eighth inning and giving up an infield hit, a walk and a go-ahead two-run double to Paul DeJong as the Yankees lost for the third straight time. , 4-3. to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

With a reconfigured bullpen, manager Aaron Boone passed Holmes in the bottom of the eighth for a 3-2 lead. Boone later said that Aroldis Chapman would have pitched in the ninth if the Yankees had been ahead.

“It’s not easy for us right now,” Boone said of his team, which is 70-36 but just 12-16 in the last 28 games.

Holmes was not the only culprit. The Yankees scored just three runs and didn’t score after the fifth, despite outhitting St. Louis, 10-5.

Clay Holmes reacts after giving up a two-run double in the eighth inning.
Clay Holmes reacts after giving up a two-run double in the eighth inning.
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Clay Holmes wasted another save.
Clay Holmes wasted another save.
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“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Matt Carpenter, who had two hits and nearly homered but grounded out to end the game with the tying run at first. “It definitely feels like a game that we were in control of the whole time. They kept it closed and locked us up.”

The eighth inning began innocently, when Holmes allowed an infield single to Nolan Arenado with one out. He then walked Tyler O’Neill with two outs before DeJong, now 5-for-7 against Holmes, hit a two-run double.

“One thing that has made me successful is limiting contact with right-handers,” Holmes said. “Giving up a double down the line, especially with runners, can’t happen.”

The fact that Chapman has pitched better lately, as well as the addition of Scott Effross (who was acquired from the Cubs on Monday and pitched well in 1 ¹/₃ innings on Friday) and Lou Trivino at the deadline, it sounds like a bullpen very different in the final stretch.

“We hope that we all get going as we are able and [Chapman] it’s gaining momentum,” Boone said. “We have a lot of options there.”

Néstor Cortés pitches Friday during the Yankees' loss to the Cardinals.
Néstor Cortés pitches Friday during the Yankees’ loss to the Cardinals.
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That would allow Holmes to attack right-handers in the seventh, eighth or ninth, but he has been less effective lately.

Néstor Cortés pitched well, but wasn’t as strong as usual, tying a season high with four walks in just 5 ¹/₃ innings.

The Yankees took the lead in the top of the first after DJ LeMahieu led off with a walk. Aaron Judge flied out, but LeMahieu moved to third on Carpenter’s single.

With two out, Josh Donaldson hit an RBI double to right-center, scoring LeMahieu and sending Carpenter to third.

The Cardinals tied the score in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of walks by Cortes and a two-out, one-run single by Yadier Molina.

Matt Carpenter greets Cardinals fans during his return to St. Louis.
Matt Carpenter greets Cardinals fans during his return to St. Louis.
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Tyler O'Neill (27) and Nolan Arenado (28) celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning.
Tyler O’Neill (27) and Nolan Arenado (28) celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning.
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Donaldson had his second RBI of the night in the third, hitting a one-run single after Judge and Carpenter led off with singles against Dakota Hudson.

Torres delivered in the fifth. After Judge singled and stole second, he advanced to third on Carpenter’s groundout after Hudson was replaced by Andre Pallante. Torres then reached on an infield hit that drove in Judge to make it 3-1.

Cortes, who had allowed just three runs in 18 innings in his previous three starts, settled into a groove after Molina’s RBI single, retiring nine straight to a walk in the fifth.

But Cortes also matched a season high with four walks, including one to Paul Goldschmidt that ended Cortes’ night with one out in the bottom of the sixth.

Tyler O'Neill rounds out first with his RBI single in the sixth inning.
Tyler O’Neill rounds out first with his RBI single in the sixth inning.
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A wild pitch by Albert Abreu, who replaced Cortes, sent Goldschmidt to second.

An Arenado single put runners in the corners before Abreu struck out Nolan Gorman, pinch-hitting for Albert Pujols, for the second out.

But Abreu faltered and gave up a hit to O’Neill to make it 3-2, as Cortes ended up being charged with two runs.

Effross came on and struck out DeJong to preserve a one-run lead.

Meanwhile, Pallante replaced Hudson and pitched four scoreless innings.

Ryan Hesley finished the game for the Cardinals. After he walked LeMahieu with one out in the ninth, Tim Locastro pinch-runner, but Judge and Carpenter couldn’t pass.

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