Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga puts out fire he didn’t start

Yankees manager Aaron Boone went to his bullpen in the fifth inning for a game in which he did not want to use Zack Britton (who had pitched four times in six days) and Aroldis Chapman (who was feeling general soreness, Boone said, and had pitched four times in five days).

The Yankees scraped by anyway, and there was not much doubt who would be Boone’s most trusted reliever without his back-end standouts.
Jonathan Loaisiga was the last of four relievers to shut down the Marlins in the Yankees’ 4-2 win at loanDepot Park in Miami on Saturday night, but the impromptu closer was the only one who essentially had to get five outs in his inning.

Attempting to hold the two-run lead, Loaisiga allowed a one-out single from Brian Anderson, then induced a ground ball from Lewin Diaz. That could have finished the game, but Gleyber Torres tagged Anderson with his glove and not the ball, and both runners ended up safe.

Jonathan Loaisiga
Jonathan Loaisiga
AP

Loaisiga did not blink. He struck out Jorge Alfaro on a 98-mph sinker before he got yet another ground ball from Bryan De La Cruz to secure the win and his third save of the season.

“It’s a different kind of energy when you come into a game and you try to close the game,” Loaisiga said through translator Marlon Abreu. “It’s hard to explain the sensation.”

It would be hard for the Yankees and their fans to explain losing yet another mindless game.

Loaisiga turned Torres’ mistake into a forgettable one.

“I thought he threw the ball great,” Boone said of the 26-year-old, who has gone nine of 10 outings without allowing a run, the only exception a four-run blowup last Sunday.
Loaisiga typically fills the job his predecessors from the bullpen took care of Saturday.

Lucas Luetge took down two innings that included four strikeouts, Clay Holmes made his second perfect appearance with the Yankees and Chad Green chipped in on a night when the bullpen combined for five scoreless, two-hit innings.

Loaisiga allowed those outings to be remembered.

“He’s turning into a really great pitcher,” Boone said. “Anytime he goes out there, I have a ton of confidence. He’s a strike-thrower, obviously great stuff. We’ve seen him mature into a guy that really relishes that opportunity.”

He will want another. And considering how much the Yankees rely upon Chapman and Britton, he probably will get one.

“It’s the last inning of the game, you feel the pressure, but … I enjoy doing it,” Loaisiga said. “You have to get used to those feelings when you go in that inning, so that it just becomes part of it — it’s not a surprise anymore.”

Each time he enters a game, it is becoming less surprising when he succeeds.

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