Yankees takeaways from Thursday’s 6-5 loss to Nationals, including bullpen falters in another rubber match defeat

New York Yankees third baseman Oswald Peraza (91) is tagged out by Washington Nationals second baseman Ildemaro Vargas (14) in a rundown after being picked off first base during the second inning at Yankee Stadium.
New York Yankees third baseman Oswald Peraza (91) is tagged out by Washington Nationals second baseman Ildemaro Vargas (14) in a rundown after being picked off first base during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees had the chance to get their first rubber game since June 29, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead as the Washington Nationals came back to win 6-5 Thursday afternoon and took the series in the Bronx.

New York (61-66) lost for the 10th time in 11 games and are 6-15 in August. Washington (59-69) won for the ninth time in 12.


Aaron Judge picked right up where he left off, smacking a solo home run in the top of the first inning for his 28th homer of the year. The 421-foot blast to right center field (109.9 mph off the bat) was his fourth dinger in his last five at-bats after his three-homer game Wednesday.

Judge popped out to first in foul territory on a 3-0 pitch his second time up before walking and flying out to end the day 1-for-4.

Gleyber Torres continued to swing a good bat, belting his 20th home run of the season for a two-run shot 344 feet into the left field corner with one out in the third. Torres entered Thursday’s game batting .316 with a .895 OPS in 20 games during August. He finished the day 3-for-5.

– Despite tagging Washington’s starter Patrick Corbin for seven hits and walking three times, the Bronx Bombers couldn’t get the one hit they needed to blow the game wide open leaving five on base and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position through six innings.

And that’s why things caught up to the Yankees in the top of the seventh. After Carter Kieboom led off the inning with a double to center, Jhony Brito retired Ildemaro Vargas on a foul out and was lifted for Tommy Kahnle, who struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches. Jake Alu’s shot up the middle off a changeup that was too hot for Anthony Volpe to handle scoring Kieboom to make it a 3-2 game. Kahnle has now allowed eight of nine inherited baserunners to score this season.

Alex Call then took a 0-1 changeup 411 feet to the visitor’s bullpen in left before CJ Abrams worked a 3-2 count in his favor and belted the eighth pitch he saw (also a changeup) for a 360-foot shot to right to give Washington a 5-3 advantage on the back-to-back jacks.

Giancarlo Stanton, who entered on a 2-for-29 slump over his last 10 games, had a pair of solid contact hits (111.3 and 94.1 mph) before smashing into double-play on a ball 114.1 mph off the bat. Stanton got his third hit of the day on a solo shot to lead off the eighth to make it a 5-4 game. For those keeping score at home, it sounded like Stanton broke his bat on the 417-foot blast that went 109.2 mph off the bat.

The Nationals got a tack-on run in the ninth off Clay Holmes, who allowed four singles (two infield hits) and hit a batter, when Joey Meneses‘ two-out, bases-loaded infield hit made the game 6-4.

Stanton got one more chance in the bottom of the ninth representing the go-ahead run after Oswald Peraza and Torres singled, and got his fourth hit of the day on a single to left to put the tying run at second base. But Harrison Bader, who after striking out in his first four at-bats of the game, drove it deep to warning track in center field for the final out.

Michael King got his second start of the season as he looks to use the rest of the season as a chance to audition for a role in the Yanks’ rotation in 2024.

King was through two innings on just 27 pitches with two strikeouts and just one hit thanks to the free-swinging Nats’ jumping early in the count, but there was some contact with exit velocities of 101.2, 97, 106.2 and 99.7 mph.

The right-hander opened the third with a walk before a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout had King in a position to close his start on a positive note. A second seven-pitch walk of the inning followed by a wild pitch had runners on second and third setting up Meneses’ grounder to short which should have ended the inning, but Volpe booted the ball allowing a run to score and ended King’s day on a sour note.

Keynan Middleton fanned Dominic Smith to end the threat and close King’s line: 2.2 innings, one hit, one run (unearned), two walks and three strikeouts on 50 pitches (31 strikes).

-Prior to the game, manager Aaron Boone said they would like King to do this a few more times this year and “get him stretched out and see what it looks like over several innings.” And the club is intrigued about the possibility of the 28-year-old becoming a starter.

“Well, anytime you can add another starter to the mix, as a real option, that’s intriguing. He has, I think, the pitch mix, the arsenal to be able to do it if he can sustain his stuff throughout that time,” Boone said before the game. “He’s got four-seam, two-seam, good changeup, slider and commands the ball to both sides of the pate. So he has the starter’s repertoire and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was able to do it. But, obviously, he’s developed into a real weapon in the bullpen, especially in multiple roles.”

– Kahnle’s bad outing (three runs on three hits with two strikeouts) spoiled what was looking like a solid day for the Yanks bullpen with Middleton forming a perfect bridge after the opener, going 1.1 with three strikeouts before Brito cruised through the Nationals lineup until the Kieboom double allowing one run and one hit over 2.1 innings with two strikeouts.

– The Yanks did have a pair of baserunning blunders in the second. Kyle Higashioka, who doubled with one out, was thrown out at third base on a groundball to short off the bat of Peraza. In Higashioka’s defense, Abrams had an error Wednesday and has struggled at short this season, but still got the catcher by 10 feet at third. Moments later, Peraza got caught moving off first base by the left-hander Corbin.

– It was looking like another tough day at the plate for the recently promoted Everson Pereira, who struck out the first three times he got up, but he ripped a 3-2 double down the left field line in the eighth for his first big league hit.

– The Nationals announced outfielder Stone Garrett had sustained a fractured left fibula when he attempted to rob DJ LeMahieu’s home run and got his cleat caught into the right field wall during Wednesday night’s game.

– During the game, the Washington Post reported Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the former No. 1 overall pick and 2019 World Series MVP, would retire. Strasburg has not pitched this year as he recovers from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. The oft-injured 35-year-old has thrown just 31.1 innings since signing a seven-year, $245 million contract in Dec. 2019.


What’s Next

New York hits the road for a 10-day, 10-game trip with three in Tampa, four in Detroit and three in Houston before finally getting a day off (fittingly) on Labor Day.

Yanks’ ace Gerrit Cole (10-4, 3.03 ERA) gets the ball to start this weekend’s series with the Rays on Friday night against right-hander Zach Eflin (13-7, 3.58 ERA).

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