PITTSBURGH — Aaron Judge said the Yankees are entering the “dog days of summer.”
So far, they aren’t treating Jameson Taillon well.
The right-hander got off to a fantastic start to the season, but was roughed up again Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to the Pirates, as his homecoming was spoiled by another subpar outing.
With the defeat, the Yankees fell to 58-23 and now have lost consecutive games just twice since May 29.
Taillon gave up five runs in 5 ¹/₃ innings in his return to PNC Park and has given up 14 earned runs — along with four homers — in 16 innings over his last three starts. And his ERA over his last six starts is 6.23.
“It’s obviously concerning,” said Taillon, who admitted he was moved by the tribute video the Pirates showed of him as he warmed up before the bottom of the first. “I need to figure it out and make a change. It’s a results-oriented league, but at the same time, I feel healthy and am making quality pitches.”
The issue, according to both Taillon and Aaron Boone, is that Taillon is getting beat on too many mistakes — particularly with runners on.
It didn’t help that for a second straight game, the Yankees’ offense was shut down by an opposing starter.
After being one-hit over seven innings by Triston McKenzie in Cleveland’s shutout win on Sunday, the Yankees couldn’t get much going against Jose Quintana, who brought a 3.18 ERA in six appearances against the Yankees (five starts) into the game.
And the left-hander was just as effective in Tuesday’s start.
He gave up just one run in five innings, but needed 96 pitches to do so, forcing the Pirates to go to their bullpen to start the sixth.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 37,733 — the first of the year at PNC — in the Yankees’ first trip to Pittsburgh in five years Taillon was hit hard all night.
Against a Pirates team that entered the game just 32-47, Taillon — who was traded to the Yankees prior to last season in exchange for a package of four minor leaguers — allowed a leadoff homer to Daniel Vogelbach to lead off the bottom of the second .
The Yankees had a chance to take the lead in the third against Quintana after DJ LeMahieu reached on an infield single with one out and got to third on a Gleyber Torres two-out double.
Giancarlo Stanton followed with a liner to center, but Bryan Reynolds — who could be a Yankees’ trade target — charged in and made a superb diving catch, likely preventing two runs from scoring.
The Pirates grew their lead in the fourth. Reynolds opened the inning with a double and Jack Suwinski followed with his 14th homer of the season to put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole.
Later in the inning, former Yankee Ben Gamel crushed a double to the gap in right-center to score Oneil Cruz and make it 4-0.
The Yankees got to Quintana in the fifth with a one-out double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and a two-out RBI single from Aaron Judge.
But Pittsburgh answered in the sixth with a sacrifice fly by Cruz.
In the seventh, Kiner-Falefa singled with one out and LeMahieu followed with a walk to bring up Judge. But Judge grounded into an inning-ending double play.
A Matt Carpenter scored singles Torres in the eighth, but that was as close as the Yankees got.
Still, at the halfway mark of the regular season, the Yankees have a 13-game lead over second-place Boston — where they visit for a four-game set starting on Thursday.
Judge said the key for maintaining their success in the second half is “keeping it simple.”
“We’ve got a good ballclub here,” Judge said. “We’ve got good guys here that know what we’re doing. When you get in these dog days of summer, don’t try to do too much. Stick to your plan. We’ll lean on each other and pull through anything.”