The New York Yankees were one inning away from another win on Tuesday night. And it was a game in which they were resting Aaron Judge.

Instead, the best team in baseball endured the worst collapse of their outstanding season. Clay Holmes allowed four runs in the ninth inning and did not retire any of the five batters he faced in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Judge is expected to return to the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Yankees host the surging Reds and will attempt to snap their second three-game losing streak of the season.

Judge was not in the starting lineup Tuesday. and his lone appearance came as a pinch hitter in the ninth. He struck out against Alexis Diaz to lead off the inning.

“I’m just being cautious,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about seven hours before his team dropped to 49-1 when leading after eight innings. “I’m trying to strike a balance between the urgency of the situation against playing the long game.”

New York’s other three-game losing streak was May 22-23 when it dropped a doubleheader to the Chicago White Sox and lost to Baltimore. Each game in this skid has seen New York blow late leads.

“It definitely feels a little bit unusual, which I think is a good thing,” New York third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “Just tells you how well we have played.”

The Reds are on a five-game winning streak after Jonathan India hit a two-run single off Wandy Peralta to cap the unlikely comeback. Cincinnati had been 0-48 when trailing through eight before Tuesday.

The Reds are seeking six straight wins for the first time since June 11-16, 2021.

Besides India’s clutch hit, Tyler Naquin hit an RBI single off Holmes. Joey Votto contributed to the rally with a single that snapped his 0-for-17 skid after the first baseman missed seven straight games with back tightness.

“To get down 0-2 right there in that situation, it takes a big at-bat to win the game, and he came through,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Cincinnati is 7-3 in its past 10 games. The Reds earned five of those wins in the ninth, or beyond, including walk-off wins over the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.

Right-hander Luis Severino (5-3, 3.11 ERA) will start for the Yankees on Wednesday. He allowed four hits in six innings during a 16-0 win at Pittsburgh last Wednesday and has completed at least six innings in eight of past nine starts.

Severino’s only previous start against the Reds was July 26, 2017, when he allowed two unearned runs and three hits in seven innings in a 9-5 win.

Left-hander Mike Minor (1-6, 6.63), who is 0-4 with a 6.17 ERA over his past four starts, will take the ball for Cincinnati. Minor’s losing streak continued Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader against Pittsburgh when he allowed four runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Minor is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in six career appearances (four starts) against the Yankees. His last appearance against them was 7 1/3 scoreless innings for Texas in New York on Sept. 2, 2019.

–Field Level Media