Entering Thursday's Yankees-Twins game at Yankee Stadium, Jhony Brito was being hailed as the Bombers' biggest rotation success story after his spectacular first two starts helped the team overcome the losses of Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino.
Less than one inning into Thursday's game, Brito was on the bench mopping his brow, likely ticketed for Scranton in the wake of his hard-to-believe performance.
Not because one poor start outweighs an impressive resumé. Just because ... well, the bullpen was already short-staffed. Now, after having to soak up 8.1 innings of action in Brito's wake on Thursday? A procedural move nobody wanted to make is probably on the horizon.
Brito surrendered a leadoff single to rookie Edouard Julien for the kid's first big-league hit, but appeared to catch a break when he was held to only one bag on a liner off the wall. Carlos Correa scalded a ball into the hole, Anthony Volpe stopped it, but the "out" call at second was swiftly overturned. With the bases soon loaded and nobody out, Trevor Larnach hit a sacrifice fly to center, and Brito exhaled. He might just get out of this.
Nope! What felt like both three minutes and 15 hours later, Michael A. Taylor took an 0-2 pitch out to dead center to run the score to 7-0 and Brito's ERA to 6.75. Two more homers off Colten Brewer later, and the Yankees had several unpleasant decisions appear on their horizon.
Minnesota Twins break curse, destroy Jhony Brito and Colten Brewer for 9 first-inning runs off Yankees
The Twins, who never seem to win at Yankee Stadium, might just be different this year. Instead of playing baseball, they walked to the mound, took Brito's pants down, and left him standing on the mound in front of 45,000 people, cold and ashamed.
Christian Vázquez changed everything. He really did.
The worst part? Other than the horrific nightmare inning? The bullpen was already taxed entering this game, with Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta, Michael King and Clay Holmes combining for five innings to finish off Clarke Schmidt's start on Wednesday. After the Yankees work through Brewer, Jimmy Cordero and Albert Abreu, they'll probably have to go to one of their inner-circle guys to finish off a blowout loss.
That means, after the dust settles on this one, Brito probably has to reluctantly go down to the minors, with either Deivi Garcia or Matt Krook likely to be recalled. Whichever one doesn't come up will probably be brought back for Brito's next turn in the rotation. Uglier than anybody wanted.
And, strangely, evocative of one of the worst losses in Yankees history, played almost 14 years ago to the day.
The good news? That was also the most recent season the Yankees won the World Series.
Silver lining, which Brito can read all about on his flight to Scranton, a hard-to-believe consequence of his own actions.