Aaron Boone's first bad decision in weeks leads to Clay Holmes meltdown vs. Mariners

Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Houston Astros v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The more you go to a sterling reliever, the likelier it is he'll have an off night and his batted ball luck will turn sour. Excepting an ill-timed walk to Cal Raleigh and two well-struck balls after the damage had been initiated (Dominic Canzone sac fly, Ty France ty-breaker), Clay Holmes and the Yankees were dinked and dunked to death in the ninth inning on Monday night. While the righty was far from horrendous, he had neither his trademark stuff nor his top-notch command.

Of course, he never should've been in this game in the first place for the third contest in four days, especially not after a perfectly executed Jon Berti hit-and-run led to a fourth run and a little ninth inning insurance in the bottom half of the previous frame.

Aaron Boone, after steering the ship remarkably steadily through a 33-15 start, hit the Holmes Panic Button on Monday night, despite Luke Weaver sitting pretty after retiring the final two batters of the top of the eighth inning.

Eventually, the guy with the 0.00 ERA is going to falter. You just hope it doesn't come with a three-run lead in the ninth and the first out of the inning already recorded on a grounder to second (which traveled faster than almost all of the hits that actually did damage). The more you go to Holmes, the likelier a meltdown is, though, and while the team was extremely careful not to overuse him earlier in the season, removing Weaver after six pitches felt like an unforced error the moment it happened, especially without Ian Hamilton available.

It felt even worse when Holmes didn't have a thing.

Yankees lose Clay Holmes' first meltdown of the year -- and why wasn't Luke Weaver pitching?

Blame the double plays if you'd like. We certainly will. Giancarlo Stanton's pair, each with a runner on third and one out, were particularly deflating.

Blame the bizarre challenge that took Anthony Volpe off second after a stolen base attempt that seemed, generously, inconclusive. Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, but if the events of the eighth still unfolded the same way with Berti's shot, that would've made Volpe the fifth run, and Stanton's double play a run-scoring blunder that ultimately won the game.

All you can blame, though, is the man who had the last word: Boone, with a strapped bullpen, going to his closer in a three-run game after the stretched-out (and better rested) guy on a scoreless streak knifed through the final two batters of the eighth.

If Holmes makes the most out of some soft contact, no one's complaining. But Boone's logic was flawed, and the L was taken. And that's what places a manager under fire on a night when he should've been celebrated for a tone-setting victorious survival.

Now, what was the "bad decision" in question here? Holmes on Monday, or Holmes on Sunday up 7-2? That's for you to decide.