Severino chased by Red Sox in pivotal 4th

Yankees starter yields 6 runs over 3-plus frames in Game 3

October 8th, 2018

NEW YORK -- 's roller-coaster second half took another dip on Monday -- only this night had more twists and turns than usual.

Working with a fastball that was (on average) more than 1 mph slower than it was in Wednesday's American League Wild Card Game, Severino struggled to find a groove in the Yankees' 16-1 loss to the Red Sox in Game 3 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

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The Yanks' ace allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks in just three-plus innings, the second-shortest outing of his six career postseason starts. Severino struck out just two of the 18 batters he faced (11.1 percent); during the regular season, his strikeout rate was 28.2 percent.

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"I didn't feel I was on top of my game; the fastball command wasn't there," Severino said. "When you're not commanding your stuff against a lineup like this, you get in trouble."

There seemed to be some confusion as to whether Severino was late to the bullpen for pregame warmups, talk sparked by Ron Darling on the TBS broadcast. The network showed video of Severino playing catch in the outfield as pitching coach Larry Rothschild walks up to him to tell him first pitch is at 7:40, as opposed to 8:15 p.m. ET for Game 2 and the Wild Card Game. Severino was later shown first taking the bullpen mound at 7:32, only 10 minutes before he threw the game's first pitch.

"If my pitching coach said [I was late to warm up], you could believe it," a defiant Severino said. "Whatever [Darling] said, he's not always in my bullpen; how would he know what time I go out? I came out 20 minutes before the game like I usually do. I don't know why he would say that."

Severino and Rothschild insisted there was nothing unusual about the pitcher's warmup, noting he typically warms up quicker than most pitchers. According to Severino, his routine includes going to the outfield 20 minutes before the game, playing catch and then moving his warmup to the bullpen.

"I always go into the bullpen 10, eight minutes before the game," Severino said. "I warm up quick, so that's always my plan."

"I think that's a little bit blown out of proportion," Rothschild said of the budding controversy. "In the playoffs, the routine is always [different] because of introductions and everything. He does a lot inside and he comes out a little bit later than most starters."

Severino said he knew exactly what time the game was slated to begin, something Rothschild echoed.

"Before I went out, I walked through the training room and told him, 'Introductions are at 28 and the first pitch is at 40," Rothschild said. "He was perfectly clear with that."

Manager Aaron Boone also tried to downplay the issue, saying "he got his normal [pitching] routine." When asked directly if the TBS crew had made a mistake, however, Boone seemed to imply that Severino's warmup might have been shorter time-wise than it typically is.

"I'm not saying -- I'm saying he had his -- he had plenty of warmup," Boone said. "He had what he intended to go down there and get done, and Larry said he was able to get through his normal routine, where he faces a couple hitters and everything. So it wasn't an issue."

On the YES Network postgame show, former Yankees catcher John Flaherty sounded skeptical when asked about Severino's quick warmup.

"There is no way you can go on a big league bullpen mound eight minutes before the scheduled first pitch and expect to be ready," Flaherty said on YES.

Whatever the issue was, Severino clearly wasn't the same dominant pitcher he was in the early innings of the AL Wild Card Game.

Although he got through a scoreless first inning, Severino gave up a pair of fly balls that registered at 100 mph or more off the bat, according to Statcast™. That became a trend, as the Red Sox laced several balls against the right-hander, including a 115.7-mph single by that led to one Boston run in the second and four more rockets in the third, where the Sox added two runs to take a 3-0 lead.

In all, the Red Sox hit seven balls at 100 mph or harder during the first three innings, matching the most Severino had allowed in any start this entire season.

That might be attributed to his fastball, which averaged 96.8 mph after clocking in at 98 mph on Wednesday against the A's. Monday was the second-lowest Severino's velocity has been this season, ahead of only his Sept. 5 start against Oakland (96.2).

"He's been 95, 96 a lot at the beginning of games," Rothschild said, downplaying the velocity drop. "You usually see it pick up."

With the bottom of Boston's lineup due up in the fourth, Boone and Rothschild decided to send Severino back to the mound. The plan was for him to pitch to the first three hitters, and if the lineup turned over, they would bring in to face .

and opened the inning with singles, then Severino walked No. 9 hitter , to load the bases. Severino -- who received a raucous ovation when he left the mound in last week's AL Wild Card Game -- exited to a chorus of boos as Lynn made his way in from the bullpen.

Lynn walked Betts to force in a run, then gave up a bases-clearing double by that gave Boston a commanding 7-0 lead.

"We really felt like Sevy could at least get us a couple outs in that fourth inning before turning it over to Lynn, and then we could roll out our guys," Boone said. "But we just couldn't stop the bleeding at all. That was the thinking behind it."