If only the Yankees could fast-forward to the seventh inning with a tie or the lead, they could rely on Fireman’s Row — the bullpen trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. But for much of this season, they have had no relief from poor starting pitching.
It happened again last night at Yankee Stadium when they trotted out Luis Severino, who had yet to break his maiden in the win column this season, to oppose undefeated White Sox lefthander Chris Sale. Can you say mismatch?
From the moment Severino hit Chicago leadoff hitter Adam Eaton, he struggled with his control. The result was a sadly predictable outing in which Severino gave up seven earned runs in just 2 2⁄3 innings before being lifted to a chorus of boos from a crowd of 34,264 in a 7-1 loss to the White Sox and Sale, who pitched a six-hit complete game.
To make matters worse, Severino (0-6, 7.46 ERA) left the game with what was described by the team as “soreness behind his right elbow.” He underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a mild right triceps strain and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The team said a corresponding roster move will be announced today.
Severino faced only 20 batters, yielding seven hits, seven runs, including a two-run homer by Jimmy Rollins that made it 7-1 and ended his evening. In addition to the hit batsman, Severino walked four and managed only 46 strikes out of 81 pitches. As Rollins circled the bases, Severino pointed to his elbow. Trainer Steve Donohue escorted him to the dugout.
Manager Joe Girardi said there was no earlier indication of any physical problem until the final pitch to Rollins. “It was just when he made that pitch,” Girardi said. “He had not mentioned it. That was the first sign. Obviously, it’s a big concern.”
Severino will not pick up a baseball for another five to seven days at the earliest. Even if he had not suffered the injury, his latest outing might have prompted a demotion to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“He had no command,” Girardi said. “He was not throwing the baseball where he wanted. He was throwing the ball up and missing his spots.”
Only a great diving stop by shortstop Ronald Torreyes for the third out of the first inning allowed Severino to escape any damage. But White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie opened the second with a double and scored on a double by Alex Avila. Severino then walked No. 9 hitter Austin Jackson and gave up an infield single to Eaton to load the bases. With two outs, Jose Abreu delivered a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.
With two outs in the third, Avila singled, and Jackson walked. That set the table for Eaton, who drove both home with a double that carried over the head of centerfielder Aaron Hicks. Rollins then pulled a 93-mph fastball inside the rightfield foul pole for the 7-1 lead.
“At the end, we lacked command,” catcher Austin Romine said. “We couldn’t get it going the right direction . . . It’s not good when a starter leaves early.”
There was no hope of a comeback against Sale (8-0), who gave up a second-inning home run to Chase Headley for the only run. Sale struck out six, walked none and threw 99 pitches.
The silver lining was provided by relievers Nick Goody, Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates, who combined to pitch 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings. “The bullpen did what they’ve been doing the whole time,” Romine said. “They came in and shut them down.”
If only the Yankees could start as well as they finish.