Brooks Kriske's performance in Boston on Thursday night wasn't just disastrous and debilitating. It was historic in the worst possible way.
Blowing a save in the 10th inning, Kiske allowed both the tying and winning runs to score for the Red Sox without giving up a hit. It was a walk and four wild pitches in a span of two at-bats that doomed the right-hander, permitting the automatic runner to score before setting the table for a walk-off sacrifice fly.
It was the first time in MLB history that a pitcher has thrown four-plus wild pitches in an extra inning. Kriske's rare feat had been accomplished only five other times—most recently by R.A. Dickey in 2008—but never after regulation.
"Obviously, I gotta do a better job," Kriske said after the 4-3 loss. "That's what I'm working on, the consistency. I want to be someone that the team can rely on big spots. It's something I'm gonna have to do better."
The 27-year-old wouldn't normally be pitching in a high leverage spot. With New York's COVID-19 outbreak and a few injuries, the bullpen was as thin as ever. Not to mention the fact that closer Aroldis Chapman and setup man Zack Britton were both unavailable after pitching in back-to-back games before Thursday night.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone used his best and most reliable reliever Chad Green in the ninth, also in a save situation. That didn't pan out either as Green allowed two runs to score on a game-tying double from Kiké Hernández with two out.
Brett Gardner put the Bombers in front in the top of the 10th with a sacrifice fly of his own, but the one-run cushion simply wasn't enough.
The loss was Kriske's first as a big leaguer, coming in his 11th career appearance. The right-hander came out of the Yankees bullpen four times during last year's pandemic-shortened campaign, riding the Scranton shuttle in 2021 as well, called upon whenever the Bombers need fresh arms.
It's worth noting that Kriske was summoned in a practically identical situation the night before in a win against the Philadelphia Phillies. The right-hander twirled a scoreless top of the 10th on Wednesday, paving the way to New York's walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium.
Thursday night was different, though. Rafael Devers was able to scamper home from second on two errant offerings while Xander Bogaerts didn't even need to lift his bat off his shoulder.
After working a walk, Bogaerts advanced two bases on two more wild pitches. Kriske punched out J.D. Martinez to record an out, but Hunter Renfroe sent a fly ball to deep right moments later, more than deep enough to score the winning run.
"You're grinding right along with him and know that he has the swing and miss stuff to potentially get out of it," Boone said. "Gets a big strike out there of Martinez. So he's capable of when he's around the zone with his fastball and split, of stranding a runner at third there. Just hoping he could get through it."
To cap off what was surely a rough night for the youngster, Kriske was optioned back to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after the game.
That move might've been inevitable either way, as certain arms get ready to return to the active roster, but it was just the icing on the cake for the right-hander.
"It's not fun," Kriske said. "There's a lot of guys battling their butts off, and it sucks to be the one to blow it for the team."
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