Manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday’s walk-off 7-5 win over the Mariners could have been another ho-hum game after the Yankees had to go to the bullpen early and at one point trailed 5-0.
But it was Jonathan Holder who was ho-hum about his performance after another stellar outing.
The righthander entered with two outs in the top of the sixth inning — after Chasen Shreve walked Jean Segura — and retired the first eight batters he faced before plunking Mike Zunino with a 94-mph fastball.
He responded by getting Dee Gordon, the next batter, to ground out to short, ending the eighth inning. It was business as usual for the 6-2 righthander.
“It’s always good to keep it where it’s at when you come in because like our offense just showed, we’re never really out of a game,” Holder said. “Even when it comes down to the ninth inning, we’re never really out of it.”
Since April 21, Holder has allowed only three unearned runs in 24 1⁄3 innings.
“He’s been terrific,” Boone said. “He’s earned everything he’s gotten this year, from making our team to getting sent down, to kind of being one of the last guys in the pen, to now more and more earning higher leverage opportunities.”
As effective as Holder was, Shreve was just as ineffective.
In a bullpen that’s been essentially airtight, Shreve has shown that he might be the Yankees’ weak link. That could create a problem for Boone because Shreve is the only lefthander in the bullpen other than closer Aroldis Chapman.
Shreve was booed after allowing two runs on four hits in two innings. He also allowed two inherited runners to score in the fourth inning when he gave up a two-run single to Gordon in relief of starting pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga.
Shreve’s ERA is up to 4.91 after allowing eight earned runs in his last seven appearances.
“I think sometimes he just loses the zone,” Boone said. “We’ll see hitters where he’s strong, where he’s getting ahead, where he establishes his fastball and can really play his split up. But we’ve also seen some where he’s 2-and-0, getting behind and then not getting the chase with the split that he needs to get when he’s ahead in the count especially.”
Othan than Shreve, the eight-pitcher bullpen has been reliable. In its last 15 games entering Wednesday, the Yankees’ bullpen had allowed just two earned runs in 42 innings for a 0.43 ERA. Relievers had struck out 56 batters and walked just 10, allowing 19 hits.
Said Boone: “Look, a bullpen in today’s game is obviously so important, but with our team and our ability to strike when it seems like we’re down, having a great bullpen hold it there or obviously preserve leads when we have them, is huge.”