Yankees suffer final heavy defeat in extra series loss to Red Sox

It can always be worse.

The Yankees were one stroke away from a much-needed victory, but they sank further into a devastating series of defeats.

After Clay Holmes blew a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning, Tommy Kahnle surrendered a two-run home run in the 10th inning to hand the Yankees their fourth straight loss, 5-3 to the Red Sox on Friday night in The Bronx.

On a sultry evening in the stadium, interrupted by rain, the Yankees (54-36) were on the verge of an ugly win.

Tommy Kahnle reacts on the mound as Boston Red Sox shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela rounds the bases with his two-run home run. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

They had made two errors in the field, a costly blunder on the bases and had only five hits, all singles, through the ninth inning.

And it was nearly enough before the Red Sox (48-39) pulled out a last-minute upset and sent the Yankees to a 14th loss in their last 18 games.

“We’ve got to play better than that, that’s for sure,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We certainly understand that and we invest a lot in that. We’ve got to play clean baseball, especially when it’s tough and things are hard to find. We’ve got to get better, period.”

Yankees center fielder Trent Grisham can’t hit a two-run homer with Boston Red Sox shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela #43. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Holmes retired the side in the ninth inning before ex-Met Dominic Smith extended the game with a pinch-hit single.

That brought into focus Masataka Yoshida, who threw eight pitches and eventually tied the game with a two-run home run to right field, silencing the sold-out crowd of 47,158.

Ceddanne Rafaela then hit a two-run homerun against Kahnle in the tenth inning.

The Yankees’ heart came to life in the tenth inning against Kenley Jansen.

Juan Soto led off with a single to put runners on the corners before Jansen retired Aaron Judge and Alex Verdugo on two pitches and Oswaldo Cabrera grounded out to end the game.

Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes reacts after Boston Red Sox DH Masataka Yoshida hits a two-run home run in the ninth inning to tie the score. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Boston Red Sox DH Masataka Yoshida is greeted by Boston Red Sox first baseman Dominic Smith. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“Bold,” Anthony Volpe, who was part of the third-inning baserunning blunder, said of the last three weeks. “We play to win and we expect to win. Regardless of when we have winning streaks or when it’s like this, I think we’ve got a really good clubhouse [that’s] staying balanced, showing up every day. We trust each other, we trust ourselves and we know we have everything ahead of us.

“That said, we play to win. We expect to win, we’re the Yankees. But nobody’s too discouraged.”

It was just three weeks ago that the Yankees took on the Red Sox in Boston and won the season opener, extending their record to the highest level in MLB: 50-22.

Red Sox shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela reacts as he scores with his two-run homer to give the Red Sox the lead in the 10th inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Since then they have been in a 4-14 streak and their play is becoming more worrying every day.

On Friday, there was a baserunning error by Volpe and DJ LeMahieu in the third inning.

Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes #65 reacts after striking out all three batters to end the sixth inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

With runners on the corners and one out, Ben Rice hit a hard ground ball to first base. Romy Gonzalez was the one to catch the ball, step on first base and throw the ball to second base for a double play.

But LeMahieu didn’t get caught in a rundown between first and second base and Volpe didn’t rush home — he thought the ball was foul, he said — allowing Rafaela to tag LeMahieu just before Volpe hit home to end the inning.

Still, the Yankees were able to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning off of Tanner Houck.

Yankees center fielder Trent Grisham #12 reacts after striking out in the 9th inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Red Sox center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela (43) attempts to tag New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) at second base during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Red Sox right-handed pitcher lost control after a 38-minute rain delay midway through the third inning, allowing the Yankees to load the bases and score on an error, a walk and a ground ball.

It looked like it would be enough, as Nestor Cortes played strongly in six one-run innings and Luke Weaver followed with two scoreless innings, including escaping a two-error block in the eighth inning.

And then, with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning, the three tough weeks became even more miserable, opening the door for a devastating loss.

“There’s no denying it — it’s not like people are ignoring it,” Holmes said. “You know where we’re at. I think people are feeling it and you want to be the one to help the team win that night. It’s just a matter of refocusing, knowing where we’re at and making sure we do our job.”

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