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ALCS Game 2 Player of the Game: Jonathan Loáisiga

Johnny Lasagna provided two scoreless innings that kept the Yankees within striking distance.

American League Championship Series Game 2: New York Yankees v. Houston Astros Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Houston Astros’ pitching staff has been absolutely incredible this season, and over the first two days, the Yankees have exclusively faced its best arms. With runs at a premium, the Yankees pitchers have needed to be absolutely perfect to even keep the team within striking distance in both Games 1 and 2. Yesterday, the Yankees pitching staff was almost perfect, save for an Alex Bregman drive off Luis Severino that sailed into the Crawford Boxes.

Thanks to a pair of unearned runs courtesy of a pair of Framber Valdez errors, the Yankees were able to send the go-ahead run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings (and even were an open roof away from taking the lead). In order for this to have happened, however, the Yankees needed the bullpen to shut down the Astros lineup, and the biggest contributor to that effort is our player of Game 2: Jonathan Loáisiga.

After a rough start to the 2022 season, Loáisiga down the stretch found the version of himself that was one of the best relievers in the game last year, and boy, did he deliver tonight. Entering the game in the sixth inning with Kyle Tucker on first, he allowed the first batter, Yuli Gurriel, to reach to put runners on first and second and one away. At this point, however, Loáisiga did what he does best, getting Aledmys Díaz to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to strand the runners. He came in with men on base, and kept them there.

To start the seventh, Loáisiga got Chas McCormick to ground out softly to Oswald Peraza, who made a nifty play to get the first out of the inning. He would lose Martín Maldonado on a 3-2 sinker that missed for ball four to bring up the dangerous Jose Altuve and the top of the Astros order. Once again, however, Loáisiga induced an inning-ending double play, this one of the 4-6-3 variety, and let me tell you, I don’t get tired of looking at it.

Loáisiga would come out to start the eighth, getting Jeremy Peña to ground out to third base for out number one before being lifted for Wandy Peralta.

Like most of the Yankees pitching staff in the first two days, Loáisiga did not rack up any strikeouts. Even so, he mowed down the Houston lineup by doing what he does when he’s at his best: generating soft contact and keeping the ball on the ground. The batted-ball profile against him was a thing of beauty.

Only one ball with an xBA more than .180 sure is a recipe for success, and by doing just that, Loáisiga was able to keep the deficit at just one run in the middle innings. In what’s become a refrain when the Yankees face the Astros, however, it’s a shame that the bats let him — and the rest of the Yankees pitching staff — down.