Pa Jake Mintz
Posted by FOX Sports MLB

NEW YORK – Yankees‘ The bullpen is currently held together with Band-Aids, gum and duct tape. It’s worn around the edges, weakened and weathered by the grueling gauntlet of a 162-game season.

Their shabby look is understandable; From a seemingly never-ending barrage of injuries to infected tattoos, New York’s relief corps has endured one hell of a season Aroldis Chapman no training until tuesday afternoon surprise UCL tear to buy deadline Scott Efros.

But on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, this battered and battered group of wannabes hung on and survived Game 1 against Guardians not allowing a run. Thanks to a pair of timely double plays and Cleveland’s lackluster offense, the trio Jonathan Loaisiga, Vandy Peralta and Clay Holmes threw no hits in 2⅔ innings of work and led the Yankees home to a stunning 4-1 victory. Each staggered, if only for a moment, but eventually held on.

Yankee ace Gerrit Cole, aka the most expensive pitcher in the known universe, earned a large amount of money in his first postseason appearance in the Bronx as a Yankee. His complete surrender in last year’s AL Wild-Card game at Fenway Park seems like a century ago. Cole’s confidence on Tuesday night matched his dominance: 6 2/3 frames, four hits, eight strikeouts, the lone blemish a solo homer Stephen Kwan.

Steven Kwan hits a solo home run off Gerrit Cole

Steven Kwan gives the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off Yankees starter Gerrit Cole.

The entire club realized pretty quickly — if they didn’t already know — that Cleveland’s best shot at pushing for runs would be against New York’s questionable pen. Patrons manager Terry Francona talked after the game about his hitters counting on Cole’s pitch early to get to the Yankees’ bullpen. The strategy looked like it would pay off early, but the fourth of eight pitches allowed Cole to cruise through the middle innings.

However, after hitting Cleveland’s 9 holes, Miles Straw, with a single in the seventh, Yankees captain Aaron Boone did what was necessary, pulling Cole from the game after 101 innings. As the New York skipper approached the mound, a haze of anxiety began to float around the ballpark. Yankees fans knew what was coming, what should have been asked of a beleaguered bullpen: eight outs before three innings.

The first volunteer thrown into the fire was the Loaisig right-hander, who just a year ago was considered one of the team’s truest high-leverage options. Armed with a 100 mph heater, he allowed nearly one hit per inning in 70+ frames in 2021 with an impressive 2.17 ERA. But this year, the 27-year-old struggled with ineffectiveness early in the season before landing on the injured list in May with a shoulder problem.

After returning in mid-July, Loaisiga was closer to his former self, but did not return to his best form.

And so any worries about Loaisiga and the bullpen in general were only doubled when Kwan, the first hitter he faced, laced a single over the shortstop’s head to put it two and one out. The 47,807 in attendance at Yankee Stadium, which had been absolutely raucous for most of the evening, tensed up. Outwardly confident, inwardly still unhappy with Chapman, the crowd was understandably nervous.

But then a 100 mph fastball, up and forward, from the hands of the Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario, changed history. As the 1-2 pitch reached Rosario’s hands, he took a meek, uninspiring swing. The man was killed. The ball bounced harmlessly to the side Isiah Kiner-Falefa to short, who calmly advanced to second and fired to first for a double play. The inning is over. Disaster averted.

After that dose of luck, Loaisiga came back for the eighth and immediately allowed a leadoff single Jose Ramirez. As Boone walked down the path toward the mound, the doubt flared up again. This time, he pressed on the opposite arm, bringing in the left-handed Peralta.

Peralta, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18 because of back discomfort, was tasked with retiring Cleveland’s strongest bat, the left-hander Josh Naylor. Naylor — who along with Ramirez was one of two relievers to eclipse 20 home runs this season — tends to struggle against one-way pitching; his OPS is .344 points lower against lefties.

But since Cleveland’s bench isn’t exactly stocked with Silver Bullet candidates, Naylor stayed to face Peralta. Predictably, he weakly rolled an 0-1 slider to the first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who stepped on the bag with first base and threw the pill to second for the tag and a double play. A pitcher’s best friend who is getting closer again.

Like Laisiga before him, Peralta returned after the Yankees’ half and retired in left field Andres Gimenez on the innocuous ground of. At that point, Francona called out to Righty Owen Miller a pinch hitter that got Boone out of the dugout and Holmes out of the bullpen.

At one point this season, Holmes was an automatic. After longtime ninth-inning starter Chapman struggled and ended up at Illinois, Holmes was given a bigger role. He took it by the horns with his lead-heavy sinker, earning his first career All-Star nod.

But that consistent excellence meant the Yankees leaned heavily on him when their other players began to fall like dominoes. By the end of the year, this fatigue showed itself. Holmes’ second-half ERA of 4.84 was hilariously higher than his 1.31 first-half mark. His ineffectiveness led to a stint in IL in August and an extended period of rest to close out the season. Until Tuesday, he last performed on September 26.

His long-awaited return started as poorly as one could imagine with Miller’s immediate sharpness.

But like his predecessors, Holmes settled in as a pinch-hitter Will Benson to score Rizzo before Straw’s flyout to center ended the game.

After such a tumultuous season, Tuesday was a nice uneventful showing for Boone and his bullpen. Even better, Holmes, Peralta and Loaisiga can usually be limited to a Game 2but the odd day off on Wednesday gives New York more opportunities to rest its top horses.

They will need all the rest they can get because the road only gets rocky from here.

Jake Mintz, Louder Half @Céspede’s BBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan who lives in New York, so he’s been single for most of October. When he’s not watching baseball, he’s almost certainly riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.

Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to stay updated on games, news and more