BOSTON — About 15 minutes after they were six outs away from a no-hitter with a four-run lead Sunday afternoon, the Yankees were losing.
An eighth inning from hell was to blame, with manager Aaron Boone second-guessing at least one of his decisions that led to the crushing 5-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
After Boone had called on Zack Britton to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga, who was roughed up while pitching a second straight day following a 14-day layoff, the Red Sox had the tying run on third and winning run on second with no outs. Facing pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki, the Yankees played in at the corners and back up the middle.
Naturally, Plawecki hit a soft grounder to shortstop, where Gleyber Torres had no shot at getting the runner at home and instead took the out at first as the Red Sox tied the game 4-4.
“That’s the one where I think about going all the way in there with no outs,” Boone said. “I just didn’t want to get beat on something soft with no outs, so had the middle back. In hindsight, that’s the one I kind of question myself about: Should we have just sold out with no outs there? That’s certainly debatable.”
Xander Bogaerts came up next and hit a sacrifice fly to put the Red Sox ahead.
Loaisiga, who had been mostly strong all season in high-leverage spots but threw 18 pitches Saturday in his first outing since missing time with COVID-19, never had it Sunday. Relieving Domingo German after the starter lost his no-hitter leading off the eighth inning, Loaisiga gave up a four hits — three of them hard hit — to the four batters he faced before getting pulled.
“No fatigue at all,” Loaisiga said. “I wasn’t able to locate my slider for strikes. And then the sinker wasn’t moving as it has been moving.”
Boone said pitching Loaisiga in that spot gave him “a little bit of pause” because of his recent schedule, but kept him in one batter past the three he was obligated to face. With the lefty Britton warming in the bullpen, Boone stuck with Loaisiga to face the right-handed hitting Kiké Hernandez. It backfired as Hernandez roped an RBI double to right field to make it 4-3.
“Just felt like I wanted one more hitter for the righty,” Boone said. “Had Britt going to get ready, knowing they were going to have a pinch-hit situation [with Plawecki]. But just felt like if Lo could locate a pitch there, I like the matchup. But it’s a fair question.”