Jonathan Loaisiga’s first start in the majors exceeded all expectations. Perhaps his second start was more in line with what you’d expect from a 23-year-old making the jump from Double-A to the majors.
The righthander struggled with command, throwing 84 pitches (51 strikes) in a rocky 3 2⁄3 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, but was bailed out by Giancarlo Stanton, who sent the Yankees home with a walk-off two-run homer in a 7-5 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night.
The night started inauspiciously with consecutive infield singles by Dee Gordon and Jean Segura, but Loaisiga settled down before allowing all three runs — two of which Chasen Shreve allowed to score in relief — in the fourth inning.
“I thought the Mariners had pretty disciplined at-bats against him,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought when he had chances, first of all, he gets off to a little bit of a tough start with the two infield hits to get going, so right away his pitch count the first couple innings was an issue. He had to work really hard.”
Physically, Loaisiga said he felt fine. It was his fastball, with which he missed often just off the plate, that was the problem.
“My fastball command, it wasn’t where I wanted,” he said through a translator. “Same with breaking pitches. But like I said before, I felt good. Now it’s a matter of keep working, keep improving. I’ll work with Larry [Rothschild] on the next start and be ready for that.”
Having failed to pitch a single 1-2-3 inning in his second career start, Loaisiga showed that he’ll have to learn on the fly, especially with no firm timetable on Masahiro Tanaka’s return from injuries to both hamstrings. Loaisiga’s five-inning, shutout debut against the Rays provided a glimpse into his potential, but Boone said he’ll have to make adjustments.
In the minor leagues, Loaisiga could get away with throwing more pitches out of the zone. Not at Yankee Stadium, and not against a lineup as potent as Seattle’s.
“I felt like when he got ahead, when he tried to put guys away, probably pitches that down in Double-A maybe pitches guys swing at, but I think he’s got to do a little bit better job of making it look like a strike when he’s going for the chase pitch,” Boone said.
Loaisiga agreed with that assessment.
“Big league hitters, they’re more disciplined at the plate, so you have to be sharp,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. Just be sharper, and like I said before, just work on that for the next start.”