Brito solid in return to majors, Yankees homer three times to beat Mariners 4-2

Jhony Brito Yankees Mariners
New York Yankees starting pitcher Jhony Brito (76) is relieved in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jhony Brito pitched a career-high 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a successful return to the major leagues and the New York Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Fill-ins Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney homered off Luis Castillo (4-6) as the Yankees won a series for the first time since placing Aaron Judge on the injured list. New York is 6-8 with Judge out of the lineup and had not won a series since taking two of three from the Dodgers in Los Angeles 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Rookie Anthony Volpe added his 10th homer in the seventh after nearly missing a homer in the third.

Recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for his 10th career start and first since May 20, Brito resembled the pitcher who allowed one run in his first two starts after making the team out of spring training.

“He had a couple of really rough outings, one in particular but I think for the most part he was either good (or) really keeping us in the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He flashed that stuff all the time, but was really pitch efficient, too, and I’m really proud of him on that start.”

Brito (4-3) allowed two hits, struck out three, walked one, and reached the sixth inning for the first time as a starter. The only time Brito had pitched in the sixth occurred May 15 in Toronto when he was a bulk reliever.

“Going down there, the priority was to be able to command the strike zone with the fastball, use the sinker to both sides of the plate, and to keep changeup low in the strike zone,” Brito said. “I’ve been working on a slider that has been giving me really good results and polishing that pitch down and putting a good package of pitches has been the focus.”

The right-hander returned to the Yankees after posting a 7.08 ERA in four Triple-A starts but was selected over Randy Vásquez to make the start for Nestor Cortes, who is recovering from a strained left rotator cuff.

“That was really impressive to see,” McKinney said. “He’s a really good pitcher. He’s got a lot of talent.”

Brito allowed a leadoff single to José Caballero and retired 12 straight before Jarred Kelenic singled to open the fifth. He exited to a nice ovation after walking Julio Rodríguez.

Brito was also aided by Bauers’ glove for the final out of the first. Bauers robbed Teoscar Hernández of a potential double by running back and making a leaping catch in front of the right field fence.

After making his defensive play, Bauers hit a fastball into the right-center field seats in the third for his sixth homer since being recalled to join the Yankees. Bauers homered after Volpe nearly missed a homer down the right-field line before drawing a walk.

Anthony Volpe Yankees
New York Yankees’ Anthony Volpe hits a solo home run off Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Gabe Speier in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“I swung through two fastballs that at-bat, had a feeling it was going to be that or the changeup,” Bauers said. “I’m guessing he missed his spot there with the fastball.”

McKinney homered for the second straight game and the third time since being recalled to replace Judge. The outfielder gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead by blasting a 1-0 fastball about halfway up the second deck in right field for a 414-foot drive.

Castillo allowed three runs and four hits in five innings for his fourth straight loss. He struck out three, walked four, and faced the Yankees for the fourth time in less than a year.

“It was good to see us really wear down an elite starter like that and make him work as hard as he did,” Boone said.

Castillo, whom the Yankees tried to acquire from Cincinnati at last year’s deadline has lost four straight starts for the first time since a seven-game skid from April 25 to May 29, 2021. He also has issued 10 walks over his last two starts and allowed multiple homers in two of his last three outings.

“A bad outing for me,” Castillo said through a translator. “I don’t think I had the command of the four pitches where I wanted to place them. I think that’s the main reason why I said it was a bad outing for me.”

Jimmy Cordero followed Brito and got the next four outs, Wandy Peralta allowed Dylan Moore’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth and Michael King put two on in the ninth. Tommy Kahnle allowed Kelenic’s sacrifice fly before finishing for his sixth career save.

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