NEW YORK -- If you had the ability to erase David Ortiz's two moonshots, a superpower that the Yankees desperately wish they had, then there were enough positive signs to be squeezed from Luis Severino's outing on Sunday night to nix any speculation about an upcoming trip to the Minors.
At least, that was the optimistic view from manager Joe Girardi's vantage point, having watched the 22-year-old tie a career high with nine strikeouts while also serving up three homers over 6 2/3 innings in the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"I actually think the kid is really close," Girardi said. "I know the numbers are going to say he went 6 2/3 and gave up four runs, but I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well. I thought he made less mistakes. I thought he had better command of his fastball. I thought his breaking ball was better, and I thought his changeup was better.
"So I think he's on the right track. We're not scoring runs for him. He gave up a few and we weren't able to overcome it."
Severino has been wandering through a Death Valley of run support this year, with New York posting just four runs behind him in his six starts. That has been a major component of his 0-5 record, and though Severino's 6.12 ERA is still no mirage, he has not been worried about a possible demotion.
"Of course not. I think I belong here," Severino said. "I think I'm doing a good job. I'm just not getting good luck. That's it."
Dustin Pedroia's two-run homer in the first inning was of the extreme Yankee Stadium variety; Severino thought it was a medium-depth fly ball and was stunned to see it carry past Carlos Beltran's glove and into the seats.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild trekked to the mound and essentially told Severino that the homer was not his fault, and Severino responded by retiring the next 10 batters before Ortiz's 422-foot bomb in the fourth inning.
"He said, 'That's like a popup,'" Severino said. "Maybe the wind. I don't know how it goes [for] a homer, but put that behind me and keep going."
Severino proceeded without incident until Big Papi stepped to the plate again in the seventh, making him pay for a fastball up with a 398-foot homer.
"Really, Ortiz was the only one that put the barrel on the baseball tonight," catcher Brian McCann said.
While the Yankees do have some concern about the effect that more losses would have on Severino's confidence, there has been debate whether he would even benefit from seasoning in the Minors, rather than working out his issues at the big league level.
"There's no doubt that he has talent," Beltran said. "He just needs one start out there where everything goes well for him. Right now, it seems like he's pitching good games and he gets himself into trouble and the other team is able to capitalize and score runs. After that, we're also not hitting the ball well. We're not getting a lot of support for our pitchers."
Given the state of the rotation, which will see Ivan Nova take a start in CC Sabathia's place on Monday, the Yankees believe they will be better off having Severino on the hill than summoning secondary options like Luis Cessa or Chad Green from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"I think Sevvy has got a lot of fight in him. I believe he's really close," Girardi said. "When he gets to the other side here, to me, this is going to make him better in the long run."