Russell: Holder The Unsung Hero

The Yankees beat the Astros 6-5 in 10 innings on Tuesday night, as Gleyber Torres singled in Miguel Andujar to end the game. Brett Gardner tied the game with a two-run homer in the ninth, his second home run of the night. 

Lost in the excitement, was the unsung performance of Jonathan Holder. The right-handed reliever pitched two shutout innings to keep Houston’s lead at 5-3. 

Holder, who made the Opening Day roster for the second year in a row, struggled mightily in the early part of the season. In the home opener, he allowed three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning. Several days later, he allowed a 14th inning grand slam to Pedro Alvarez in a 7-3 loss. He was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but since returning on April 21, Holder has not allowed an earned run in 13 appearances. 

“Just kept staying with the process and just trying to stay within myself and go one pitch at a time,” Holder told NY Sports Day. 
In four appearances in Triple-A, Holder allowed two runs in six innings. Since returning to the Big club, he has retired 47 of 54 batters, striking out 15. So what changed? Was it something he noticed on video? Something with his mechanics? 
“No. Just trusting my stuff and that if I keep the process, it can even out,” Holder said. 
After CC Sabathia surrendered five runs (three earned) over five innings, Holder pitched a 1-2-3 sixth. In the seventh, he worked around a pair of errors to pitch a scoreless inning. J.D. Davis flew out to center with two runners in scoring position and a chance to blow the game open. 
“It’s alright,” Holder said of the defensive miscues. “They make a lot of plays for me, so you just gotta try to pick them up. That doesn’t happen often. They’re really good at what they do, so just try to stay with it and pick them up.”
New York committed five errors in the game, and also struck out 17 times. But Holder’s two innings kept the Yankees within striking distance. “It’s great knowing our offense can come back at any time,” Holder said. 
Holder was somewhat anonymous last season in a loaded bullpen. He did have his moments, pitching three shutout innings in an 18-inning win at Wrigley Field, and pitching three shutout innings in a 16-inning win at Fenway Park. 
Right now, his ERA is at 2.95 over 16 appearances. Without the two early shellackings, he hasn’t given up an earned run in his 14 other outings. 
And Holder, who turns 25 in early June, is enjoying being on this Yankee team that has now won 25 of its last 33 games. 
“It’s great, man,” Holder said. “It’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s exhilarating. It’s just awesome.”
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