Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes reacts during the ninth inning...

Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes reacts during the ninth inning against the Reds in an MLB game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Logic and over a century of baseball history dictate that there’s no such thing as an automatic out, or anything close to a sure thing, but when Clay Holmes came into pitch with a three-run lead in the ninth inning against one of the worst teams in baseball Tuesday, the ending seemed as close to certain as possible.

Until it wasn’t.

But despite the alarming outing – one where a wild Holmes was completely removed from the dominant closer he’s become this year – it was just that, one outing, Aaron Boone said. And there’s no reason to be concerned, even if Holmes also had a blown save the game prior against the Red Sox.

“I look at last night as a one-off, especially compared to Boston where I actually felt like he threw the ball well,” Boone said Wednesday before the Yankees played the Reds, who came into the day 33-54 and in last place in the NL Central. “I think last night was just a rough one – just couldn’t find it.”

The “it” being the strikezone, mostly. Holmes threw 16 pitches and managed only five for strikes, saying after the game that he struggled with his mechanics, and couldn’t make the on-the-fly adjustment to his arm slot as he has in past games. He allowed four runs after having allowed just three in his previous 38 outings. To really hammer home how good Holmes had been before that, one bad night ballooned his ERA to 1.37 after it had been a microscopic 0.46 the night before.

And there’s little doubt that the blown save against the Red Sox was more misfortune more than anything else – he came into the eighth with two outs and a runner on second, walked one batter and then allowed a run-scoring single before a shutdown ninth.

“I know Matt (pitching coach Matt Blake) and him were in there earlier talking about some things they identified just with his posture and mechanically that they were both like, ‘yeah, that was the difference,’” Boone said. “And he just wasn’t able for whatever reason to kind of make that adjustment on the mound last night.”

Holmes redeemed himself Thursday night when he pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a tie game and the Yankees went on to win, 7-6, in 10 innings.

'D' is OK

Despite a few defensive miscues – perhaps most notably Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s costly seventh-inning error against the Red Sox Sunday – Boone said he’s been pleased with his infield’s play.

“I think it’s been really good,” he said. “We didn’t turn the double play in Boston that ended up giving them the extra out, but otherwise, JD (Josh Donaldson) has been great at third, Isiah has made some sparklers. He made the bad error that led to the big inning in Boston where he threw the ball in the dirt and we don’t make that play, but otherwise, he’s turned in some sparklers. I feel like Gleyber (Torres) is playing at a really high level. We’ve had a couple of errors or miscues that have cost us, but when you look at the overall, they continue to play at a really high level.”

German return imminent

Domingo German is slated to make another rehab start with Triple- A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday, but if needed, the Yankees are comfortable with activating him sooner than that, Boone said. German, who hasn’t pitched since spring training due to a shoulder impingement, threw four scoreless innings in his last rehab start.

Judge back in lineup

Aaron Judge, who sat Tuesday after a day off Monday for rest (and sat out with a sore calf last Thursday), was back in the lineup Wednesday. He batted second and played center, and Boone said he intends to play Judge every day until the All-Star break.

Free Bird

The Yankees released Greg Bird from his minor-league contract. The fan favorite and former top prospect, whose career was derailed by injury, was slashing .218/.325/.354 with Triple-A Scanton/Wilkes-Barre this year.

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