For the second straight game, a previously reliable Yankees reliever in what had been the most effective bullpen in baseball had a nightmare eighth inning.
It was pretty nightmarish for the defense, too.
One day after Chad Green served up a go-ahead three-run homer to Houston’s Jose Altuve, poor pitching by Jonathan Loaisiga and three Yankees errors in Washington’s six-run eighth turned a tie game into the Yankees’ second straight crushing loss on Friday night.
Loaisiga was charged with five runs (four earned) in one-third of an inning as the Yankees fell to the Nationals, 11-4, at the Stadium. After a five-game winning streak, the Yankees are back to .500 at 16-16.
The big blow was a three-run home run by Josh Harrison off Loaisiga, but the ugliness was spread all around the field as the wheels completely came off for the Yankees.
Loaisiga (3-2) entered a 3-3 game with a 0.98 ERA. It’s now 2.89.
He recorded one out, and that was after the first five batters he faced reached base and the Yankees were down 7-3.
Loaisiga was hurt by errors by Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu, making the difficult task of keeping the score tied much harder to complete.
Yadiel Hernandez opened the inning with a single to right-center. Judge booted it, allowing Hernandez to take second. It was Judge’s first error since Sept. 30, 2018.
"He’s as good as it gets out there, so any time he doesn’t do something perfect, it kind of catches you off a little bit," manager Aaron Boone said. "Those are going to happen."
After Judge’s error, Victor Robles bunted to third. LeMahieu (who earlier hit a pair of solo home runs) threw wildly to first for an error.
With the infield in, Trea Turner singled to center to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead. Harrison followed with a three-run homer to left to make it 7-3.
Washington scored two more runs in the inning with Luis Cessa on the mound, the final one on Gleyber Torres’ error. Juan Soto added a two-run homer off Cessa in the ninth.
"Just not a good inning for us, obviously," Boone said. "Lo wasn’t quite as sharp. Fell behind the first hitter. They put some really good swings on some balls, too, obviously. They hit the ball pretty hard that inning. We were in pretty good position there in a tight ballgame with Lo and [Aroldis Chapman] lined up there. They got it done and we didn’t that inning."
Said LeMahieu, "It was not good timing for those errors to happen. I think we’ve been playing pretty good defense lately. Just one of those innings. It was bad timing to have all of those happen. We didn’t help our pitchers out at all."
In the eighth and ninth innings Thursday and Friday, Green, Justin Wilson, Loaisiga and Cessa allowed 13 runs and 12 hits, including three-run homers by Harrison and Altuve and two-run homers by Soto and Martin Maldonado.
LeMahieu gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first with a homer to right (a short porch special) off Patrick Corbin. Josh Bell tied it in the second with a home run to the netting over Monument Park off Jameson Taillon. Three batters later, Yan Gomes lined a two-run shot to left to give Washington a 3-1 lead.
Gary Sanchez homered to left in the second — his first home run since April 3 — and LeMahieu homered to right again off Corbin to tie the score at 3 in the sixth.
LeMahieu, who also singled in the third, is 21-for-54 (.389) with six homers off Corbin, the former Arizona lefthander.
Taillon, who picked up his first win in two years in his last outing, pitched 6 1⁄3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits in a season-high 99-pitch effort. He retired 15 straight batters at one point..
He was helped by Clint Frazier, who robbed Harrison of an extra-base hit with a full Superman dive to catch a drive on the warning track in left-centerfield in the third. It’s the second such catch Frazier has made this season.
Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 and saw his hitting streak end at 12 games.
Judge went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and has one hit in his last 21 at-bats.
"I’m not too worried about him," Boone said. "Greatness has a way of figuring it out, and along the way you’ll have a couple bumps here and there in a couple games."
With Gio Urshela day-to-day with a left knee injury suffered on Thursday, the Yankees called up Miguel Andujar, who made his first major league start at first base and went 0-for-4.
Urshela might not be out too long, Boone said, after an MRI showed no issues other than swelling.
First base has been a wasteland for the Yankees with Luke Voit still rehabbing from March knee surgery.LeMahieu, Jay Bruce and Mike Ford combined to hit .154 with a .506 OPS.
Voit went 0-for-3 with a walk and played four innings at first in a rehab game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in rainy Syracuse on Friday night. The 2020 MLB home run leader could make his season debut for the Yankees next week.
Andujar got off to a hot start in three games with Scranton, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with three home runs, including two long balls on Thursday.