The hype machine was turned up to 11 for Luis Severino's Major League debut last night, and with good reason. Severino has done everything to earn the quick promotion up the ladder, dominating at every level he's pitched, and he was getting inserted into the middle of a playoff race to bolster the team's biggest area of weakness. The buzz was justified and Severino lived up to it last night, but the bats couldn't get anything going against a pesky knuckleballer and the Yanks dropped the middle game of the set.
Severino came out firing in the first couple innings. He featured a mid-high 90s 4-seamer, a low 90s cutter, and a low 90s slider, and just from the pop of the glove you could tell that everything had some extra oomph on it. He got burned by a Chase Headley throwing error and an Alejandro De Aza double with 2 outs to plate the first Boston run in the top of the 2nd, but overall he looked really good. He struck out 4 over the first 3 innings and the Red Sox hitters were having trouble keeping up with his heat.
The one mistake Severino made came in the top of the 4th, and it's a mistake that plenty of pitchers before him have made. He got behind David Ortiz 2-0 to lead off the inning and threw a get-over fastball to try to get a strike. The ball caught too much of the plate and Ortiz clobbered it deep into the right field bleachers. He knew it was a fastball count, he knew a young pitcher like Severino would throw it, and he obliterated it. Severino did well to shake it off, however, striking out 2 more to get out of the inning without further damage and then working an economical 1-2-3 5th.
While Severino was really good, his counterpart Steven Wright was even better. The knuckleballing MiL journeyman had the night of his life against the potent Yankee lineup, limiting them to 4 hits and 1 run over 8 innings. He mixed speeds well, throwing a low 70s knuckler and a high 70s knuckler, and the Yankee batters just couldn't do anything with him. Jacoby Ellsbury looked pathetic in his at-bats, A-Rod and Teix each took a couple of bad swings, and there were more pop-ups on the infield than there were hard-hit balls.
The only real good contact off a Yankee bat came in the bottom of the 7th when Carlos Beltran cracked a 1-1 hanger for a solo shot. At the time it felt like maybe Wright was starting to lose it and the Yanks would strike late, but like Severino he recovered to get the next 3 in order and limit the damage to 1. The Yanks had something cooking in the 8th inning after a John Ryan Murphy leadoff single, but Wright kick saved a base hit heading up the middle off the bat of Ellsbury and turned it into a rally-murdering double play.
Adam Warren came on in relief of Severino and tossed 3 shutout innings, and Chasen Shreve had to work hard to get through a scoreless 9th to set up the walk-off opportunity. A Teix single and a Chase Headley walk made the Red Sox sweat a little, but Koji Uehara got pinch hitter Brian McCann to fly out to center to end the game. A bummer of a loss considering how good Severino looked, but hey, still 6 games up in the loss column.
- Here's the line on Severino: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He threw 59 strikes out of 94 pitches and got 10 swings and misses. I was really impressed with him. He locates on the corners of the zone pretty well and his stuff is top shelf. He just needs to iron out the mechanical inconsistencies that plague every pitcher his age and gain some experience. Stacey will have more on his first start at 10, but I'm giving it 1 thumbs up.
- Ellsbury went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts and the GIDP in the 8th and he really looked awful against Wright. He's 6-38 with 13 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
- Nice work by Warren in his 3 relief innings. That dude can really pitch. Maybe the Yankees should think about working him into the rotation sometime, just to see how he does.
- Headley's 12-game hitting streak was snapped. That's a shame.
- Good to see that McCann was healthy enough to hit in the 9th. That knee injury looked bad when it happened the other night, but he didn't seem to be favoring it when he swung. I bet he gets another game off tonight and returns for the Toronto series.