HOUSTON -- The Yankees already view Luis Severino as one of the league's elite pitchers, frequently marveling at his drive for excellence and a belief that he can be trusted for the biggest situations. The young right-hander lived up to that billing and more on Wednesday, dominating the defending World
HOUSTON -- The Yankees already view Luis Severino as one of the league's elite pitchers, frequently marveling at his drive for excellence and a belief that he can be trusted for the biggest situations. The young right-hander lived up to that billing and more on Wednesday, dominating the defending World Series champions.
Backed by a two-homer, four-RBI performance from Giancarlo Stanton, Severino struck out 10 and pitched the first complete game of his big league career, pounding his glove with glee after shutting out the Astros in a 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park.
"I wouldn't want to be in the box facing him," Stanton said. "He's going to pound the zone at 100 mph, and if you look on time for that, you're going to get that 90-mph slider. It's exactly what we needed tonight and another par-for-the-course outing for him."
Severino was credited with his fifth win, tying the Indians' Corey Kluber for the American League lead as the Yankees won for the 11th time in 12 games. Severino retired 14 of the first 15 men he faced, yielding five hits and a walk in the 110-pitch effort.
"This means a lot," Severino said. "This is a great team. They're a great fastball-hitting team. For me and [catcher Austin] Romine to be able to go through nine innings, that's very special."
Severino was at 98 pitches after the eighth inning, and he returned to the dugout bench unsure if manager Aaron Boone would permit him to try for the shutout. Boone asked how he was feeling, then told him: "I'm going to give you one more." Severino beamed briefly, then restored his game face for the ninth.
"There was a lot of trepidation. It was frankly a tough call for me," Boone said. "I had a conversation with Sevy real quick and actually deliberated on it for a few seconds. I felt like he was in a good place to go back out. I felt like he had a lot left in the tank."
With the Yanks recording their second consecutive shutout, Stanton's second multihomer game of the season fueled the offense. Stanton cracked a two-run homer to right field in the first inning, a solo shot to left field in the fourth and an RBI double to right in the eighth.
The first two knocks came off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who took the loss, scattering six hits over seven innings. Keuchel walked none and struck out five. He had never permitted a home run to a Yankees hitter before Wednesday.
"I didn't know that," Stanton said. "Good to break that, at least."
Stanton got to Hector Rondon for his third hit of the night, producing an insurance run that helped nudge Severino back to the mound. He was still throwing 99 mph in the ninth inning.
"At the start of the game, he's throwing 97, 96, 98," Aaron Hicks said. "It just seems like as the game goes on, he's throwing harder and harder, which is really impressive."
Severino struggled against the Astros last season, going 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in four starts -- including two in the AL Championship Series. The difference, Severino said, came by trusting his changeup in key situations.
"I was getting ahead in the count," Severino said. "My fastball was there. I threw a lot of changeups. Every time I threw against these guys [previously], it was fastball, slider, fastball, slider. I tried to change and throw more changeups."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Severino's shutout bid remained intact with a big assist from second baseman Gleyber Torres, who ranged up the middle to flag Alex Bregman's soft line drive with two on and none out in the seventh inning. Severino recovered to strike out Marwin Gonzalez and retire pinch-hitter Brian McCann on a groundout.
"He just kind of came out of nowhere," Boone said. "[Yuli Gurriel had] the infield hit to start it, then [Josh] Reddick hit the ball hard, and then a bloop. You're like, 'Is this how his night is going to end, with a couple dinkers?' And Gleyber comes out of nowhere and makes another impactful play on defense like he's been doing since he got here."
At 24 years and 71 days old, Severino is the youngest Yankees pitcher to throw a shutout with 10 or more strikeouts since 23-year-old Stan Bahnsen blanked the Red Sox with 12 strikeouts on Aug. 1, 1968, at Fenway Park.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Christopher Austin made a nifty play to retire McCann for the final out of the seventh inning, but the first baseman landed hard on his right hip and gingerly left the field. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Neil Walker when the Yankees came to bat in the eighth inning, but Austin said that his hip felt better after the game and he expects to play on Thursday.
"He jammed his hip and was out of whack," Boone said. "He limped off pretty good. But he looked pretty good after the game and said he'd be OK tomorrow. It seems like we avoided something serious."
HE SAID IT
"I didn't do anything special last year. I have to keep grinding, keep fighting. The things that happened last year, that's last year. This year I have to try to be better." -- Severino
The Yankees will conclude their four-game visit to Houston on Thursday, facing the Astros in a 2:10 p.m. ET matinee at Minute Maid Park looking to secure a series victory. Masahiro Tanaka is seeking his third consecutive win, having completed at least six innings with three hits or fewer and one run in both of his previous outings. He struck out nine in his last effort on Saturday against the Angels. Lance McCullers starts for the Astros.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.