Instead of a sweep, the Yankees got a Royal flush — and not the good kind.
Clay Holmes blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, giving up a three-run homer to Salvador Perez that sank the Yankees in an 8-6 loss to the Royals on Sunday afternoon in The Bronx.
It was the first home run Holmes has allowed this season in his 45th appearance. Trying to protect a 6-5 lead, the Yankees closer retired the first batter of the ninth before losing his command with a walk, a hit-batter and Perez’s go-ahead blast to center field.
The red-hot Aaron Judge tried to work his magic in the bottom of the ninth as the potential tying run, but his fly ball to right field came up short of the warning track for the second out. Then with two men on, Gleyber Torres flew out to end the game and snap the Yankees’ three-game winning streak.
The Yankees bullpen entered Sunday having pitched 10 shutout innings through the first three games of the series against the Royals. But that came tumbling down in a hurry when Ron Marinaccio gave up a solo home run in the eighth inning before Holmes’ implosion in the ninth.
It wiped away what would have been another comeback win by the Yankees (69-34). They trailed 4-0 before a two-run home run by DJ LeMahieu in the fifth inning and a three-run homer by Anthony Rizzo in the seventh gave them a 6-4 lead.
In the eighth, Marinaccio had his scoreless streak snapped at 15 games and 19 innings when he gave up a leadoff home run to Hunter Dozier. It was the first homer he gave up all season and the first hit he allowed since June 7, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 6-5.
The rookie reliever then flirted with danger as he gave up a single and a walk with one out. But he got the ground ball he needed against Nick Pratto for a double play to escape the jam.
Coming off his shortest start of the season — when he gave up five runs (four earned) across 2 ¹/₃ innings against the Mets — Jordan Montgomery was in control early on Sunday. After allowing a one-out single in the first inning, the lefty retired the next 11 batters until issuing back-to-back walks to start the fifth inning.
Those free passes came back to hurt him, though, as the Royals went on to knock Montgomery out of the game with a four-run inning. After MJ Melendez loaded the bases with a single to center field, Pratto sprayed a fly ball down the left-field line that hit off the glove of a diving Andrew Benintendi for a two-run single.
Maikel Garcia then found another hole, poking a ground ball down the open first-base line for a double that put the Royals up 3-0 and ended Montgomery’s day.
Albert Abreu came in from the bullpen and immediately got a ground ball from Whit Merrifield, but with Isiah Kiner-Falefa playing at medium depth, the shortstop went for the sure out at first as the Royals extended their lead to 4-0.