BALTIMORE -- If Jonathan Holder had been on the bubble as far as September callups were concerned, his Sunday appearance for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tipped the scales, as the right-handed prospect struck out 11 straight batters in a four-inning scoreless relief appearance.
Holder struck out 12 of the 13 men he faced against Rochester, helping the RailRiders clinch an International League playoff berth. The performance also made people in the organization blink hard and check their daily Minor League reports a second time.
"We thought it was maybe a misprint when we looked at it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's pretty amazing, what he did."
Girardi said that Holder's performance forced the Yankees' hand into making him one of six players called up on Friday, as rosters expand for the season's final month. Also summoned from the Minors were right-hander Nick Goody, right-hander Luis Severino, infielder Rob Refsnyder, right-hander Kirby Yates and outfielder Eric Young Jr.
Holder didn't have to wait long to make his Major League debut, entering for the sixth inning of the Yankees' 8-0 loss to the Orioles on Friday. He struck out Adam Jones, the first batter he faced, before getting Pedro Álvarez and Manny Machado to ground out in a perfect 16-pitch frame (11 strikes).
"I was just excited," Holder said. "I was ready to get the first one in there. No nerves. Once I got out there and had the ball in my hand, it felt like normal. … [The strikeout] definitely eased the pressure a little bit in my mind and got me ready to go for the next two."
Holder said that he wasn't distracted as Jones playfully tried to steal the strikeout ball from catcher Gary Sánchez, who sent the memento into New York's dugout for safe-keeping.
"I saw a glimpse of it, but I turned around right then," Holder said.
• Jones did his best to steal Holder's first strikeout ball
The 23-year-old Holder was a sixth-round pick out of Mississippi State in the 2014 Draft and was 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 42 Minor League outings at three levels, striking out 101 against just seven walks in 65 1/3 innings. He said that his father and brother were on hand for Friday's debut, having made the trip from Gulfport, Miss.
"He did a good job," Girardi said. "He came out and threw strikes, had three pitches that he mixed in; a curveball, a slider or cutter, and a fastball. It was good."
The Yankees' moves also see a return for Severino, 22, who began the season in the Yanks' rotation but was 1-8 with a 7.19 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) at the big league level before he was sent down.
"Everybody wants to have success in the big leagues," said Severino, who worked a scoreless inning with a strikeout Friday. "A lot of good players have been in this situation. I have to let that go and keep going. I'm working and making pitches and throwing."
The Yankees still see Severino as a starter and have encouraged him to trust his changeup more, but he will be working as a reliever this month. Girardi said he could use Severino in both short and lengthy stints, perhaps as long as four or five innings.
"You have to remember, he's really young, too," Girardi said. "Being down, I thought his slider improved, I thought his changeup was better the last game. It still has more work, but right now we need him to be a force in the 'pen, and that's how we'll use him."
Young was acquired from the Brewers on Wednesday in exchange for cash considerations. The speedy 31-year-old had been envisioned as a pinch-runner, but with Aaron Hicks having sustained a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Royals, Girardi said that it is possible Young could see some time in the outfield.
"Fortunately for me, I was put in the same situation last year, traded over to the Mets," Young said. "Knowing what my role is, what I'm going to be asked to do here, especially given this last month of September. Being in New York already, I'm pretty much accustomed to it. The transition is a little easier this year, but at the same time, it's still exciting baseball, and it will be a great opportunity."