TORONTO -- There was a flat, get-me-over slider that Luis Severino wished he could throw again to Justin Smoak, but otherwise there wasn't much for the right-hander to hang his head about, as the Yankees completed a 3-4 road trip that manager Joe Girardi described as, "just OK."Smoak's two-run, game-tying
TORONTO -- There was a flat, get-me-over slider that Luis Severino wished he could throw again to Justin Smoak, but otherwise there wasn't much for the right-hander to hang his head about, as the Yankees completed a 3-4 road trip that manager Joe Girardi described as, "just OK."
Smoak's two-run, game-tying homer in the sixth inning served as the lone blemish on another strong performance by Severino, who has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for through his first 11 starts of the season. He accepted a no-decision in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
"I think I'm a little disappointed with myself because I [had] the game in my hands," Severino said. "I think if I throw a good pitch there, I can get a ground ball."
Perhaps, but Smoak leads the Blue Jays with 14 home runs, so his power hasn't exactly been an isolated incident. Severino settled for seven innings of two-run, six-hit ball in a 98-pitch effort -- striking out at least seven batters for the fourth straight start.
"He's nasty. Right out of the gate, his fastball was electric today," said Josh Donaldson, who hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning off Tyler Clippard. "It's been a little bit since I've seen 98 or 100 [mph], so it might have seemed even more electric to me.
"There's not too many fastballs that I get 3-2 when I'm looking heater that get thrown by me, and he threw it past me my first at-bat," Donaldson continued. "I was trying to make adjustments all throughout the game, and he kept making adjustments to me. He had my number today and he had our number for a large portion of the game."
Severino said that he and catcher Gary Sanchez seemed to be on the same page all afternoon as they navigated the Jays' powerful lineup. Severino's 56 fastballs averaged 97.5 mph and maxed at 99.7 mph; he also threw 32 sliders and 10 changeups.
"He didn't make a lot [of mistakes]. He didn't," Girardi said. "When I look back at his performance, it's pretty darned good. He just had a slider that just didn't do much, and that's going to happen."
The 11-start milepost is significant for Severino because that was where his leash ran out last season, when he finished 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA as a starter before being moved to the bullpen for the playoff push. In 47 2/3 innings as a starter, Severino permitted a .337 batting average and 11 homers.
There were calls to leave Severino in the bullpen, but Girardi notes that the 23-year-old was essentially just a college senior when he made his Major League debut, leaving room to dream.
"We've always felt that he was a big league starter," Girardi said. "The expectations were extremely high, and I still think there's room for even more improvement. I think he has the ability to get better. But he's been very, very good this year."
Thanks, in large part, to increased trust in his changeup, Severino's performance has turned around. Including Sunday's effort, Severino is 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 68 1/3 innings -- holding opponents to a .223 batting average, while permitting eight homers.
"I think [the difference has been] fastball command," Severino said. "The fastball has been good. I throw a lot of changeups for a strike; they're chasing it. It's got really good action, and the slider has good shape."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.