TORONTO — Clay Holmes’ dominance has surpassed the level of Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees made their 29th straight game without a score Saturday in a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Center, breaking Rivera’s franchise record for a relief pitcher that stood since 1999.
“Just for the fact that it’s Mariano Rivera, that’s kind of special,” Holmes said after pitching 1 ¹/₃ perfect innings to end the game. “He’s a guy I grew up watching. What he’s done in this game, it’s pretty amazing. So just to be in the same category of just one little thing he’s done “, that’s pretty cool. The defense has been great. It’s been fun to throw for this team and the receivers. It’s been a fun little run. I think we all hope to keep it going.”
Holmes has now pitched 31 consecutive ¹/₃ innings without allowing a run – Rivera’s 28-game scoreless streak stretched to 30 ²/₃ innings. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last Yankees pitcher before Holmes to record a scoreless streak of at least 31 innings in a single season was Jack Aker in 1969, with 33 innings in 18 games.
The only game in which Holmes allowed a run this season came in his first outing on April 8, when the Red Sox reached him for a run on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Since then, Holmes has been nearly untouchable, allowing just 15 hits and three walks while striking out 33 on his way to breaking the franchise record.
“It was awesome,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We recognized that today in the post game. He got the belt today because of it. Thinking about this legendary franchise and bringing up the name Mariano, what more can you say? He was absolutely dominant and still was today.
Holmes’ slider has improved this season, but his bread and butter is his lead, which has confused batters with his unpredictable movement.
“His sinker, man, is literally a freaking bowling ball,” Aaron Hicks said. “The thing comes out of his hand and he’s extremely precise with it.”
Holmes can dominate with his lead like Rivera did with his cutter, and now that has put him past the Hall of Famer – who congratulated Holmes on social media when he tied the record. Holmes also did this by stepping into the closer role in place of the injured Aroldis Chapman and he didn’t flinch in the process.
“You hear something once in a while [about the record]little things, but it doesn’t really change [anything]”, said Holmes. “When I get on the mound, it’s the same goal. It’s definitely special, just for who Mo was. But I have to keep focusing on what I’m doing and trying to keep to roll.