Yankees closer Clay Holmes had essentially been spotless since his early-season struggles. As the Yankees sank quickly, he rose, allowing just three earned runs between May 4 and the moment he strode to the rubber on Sunday afternoon, three outs away from a win over the Miami Marlins.
It was a game in which the Yankees leaned on Gerrit Cole and expanded their early lead from 2-0 to 4-1 to 6-1 to 7-1. It was a game in which the Yankees seemed poised to cruise to the finish line, remaining four games behind the already victorious Blue Jays in the (obviously doomed) Wild Card chase.
A win probably wouldn't have meant all that much in the grand scheme of things, but still, the fewer impossible losses you can pile up, the better.
A loss? Well, that now means everything.
Holmes allowed a leadoff double to Yuli Gurriel, struck out No. 8 hitter Jon Berti, allowed a dribbler up the middle to the backup catcher, and walked Jazz Chisholm Jr. to load the bases for Josh Bell.
A grand slam would tie the game -- and, for fatalistic fans of the 2023 Yankees, that felt like the likely outcome. Somehow, Holmes instead induced a soft grounder to the mound -- and the Yankees found a way to make that worse than any titanic blast.
Yankees' Clay Holmes mangles Josh Bell grounder, Marlins walk off New York
A grounder to the mound! An escape hatch! An easy double play, with the slow-footed Bell at the plate.
Holmes bobbles. Some harm, mostly no foul. Just field and throw to first, get the out -- no out recorded. NL's leading hitter striding to the plate. Game tied on an 0-2 count seconds later.
The pitch clock mercifully sped up Sunday's meltdown. In the old days, this would've taken 45 minutes. Happy to escape more briskly.
With runners on second and third and one out, Aaron Boone decided not to have a wild Tommy Kahnle walk a scorching Jake Burger intentionally, resulting in the inevitable game-ending double. In a vacuum, that managerial move was foolish. On the version of planet earth we were inhabiting Sunday, it was fine. Kahnle had nothing. The Marlins had already stolen this one. All Boone did was choose the method of his own destruction.
This graphic, as doom-inducing as it felt to read, simply is not true. Somehow, that makes the plight of the Yankees even worse. Not only have they accomplished this feat since 2011, but they've now done it three times since 2021, otherwise known as the Great Regression.
There was June 30, 2021, when the Yankees blew an 8-4 lead in the ninth and lost 11-8 following a massive rain delay and a Jared Walsh grand slam. There was July 11, 2021, the final game before the All-Star break, where the Yankees crisply and efficiently blew a 7-2 lead in the ninth in Houston to be walked off 8-7. It's understandable if the YES Network's research omitted the 2021 season. We would love to do the same. But, in reality, 2023 is merely an evolved version of that nightmare, and it's shocking it took so long for us to reach a point like Sunday, actually.
None of the architects or stewards of this team should be allowed to come back next year. None of them should've been allowed to come back to begin 2023. It may now be too late for the promising pieces left in their wake to escape the truth. This group is packed to the seams with poor-energy losers.