Is it the hair? Severino gets trim, returns to form

Yankees righty rebounds from rough stretch with 6 scoreless innings vs. AL West leaders

June 25th, 2023

NEW YORK --  sat in a barber’s chair ahead of his start against the American League West-leading Rangers, mulling his season of mixed results. As he eyed his reflection, the Yankees pitcher realized it was an opportunity to transform this routine trim into a time portal.

Severino asked for his hair to be cropped close to his skull, the way he had worn it in 2017, when he was a 23-year-old fireballer on the way to his first AL All-Star selection. What’s old is new again: Severino delivered a vintage performance over six scoreless innings, picking up his first win of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

“It was a really good challenge for me,” Severino said. “That’s one of the best teams in the American League right now, and to win a one-run game, that tells you a lot about this team and what we can do.”

Severino scattered five hits in the performance, which featured right fielder ’ strong throw to cut down Nathaniel Lowe’s attempt to score on a Josh Jung single in the first. After that, Severino was largely in control, walking two and striking out four in a 95-pitch effort (59 strikes).

“It’s always good getting out of the first with a zero,” Bauers said. “Anytime you can help a pitcher like Sevy and give him a little bit of momentum, you know he’s going to run with it.”

After being sidelined in Spring Training due to a strained lat muscle, Severino made his season debut on May 21 and held opponents to three runs (two earned) across 11 1/3 innings through his first two starts. He had been 0-2 with a 9.16 ERA in four starts since.

“I thought he had good life on the fastball, and his secondary [pitches] were better,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It still wasn’t perfect by any means, but he had a really good presence. Now it’s about getting to that next level of command, and hopefully he can really take off.”

So is this enough evidence to suggest that Severino’s 2017-era hairstyle must be kept? He chuckled.

“Maybe. I don’t know,” Severino said. “My wife doesn’t agree with that. We’ll try our best.”

On a day when Aaron Judge acknowledged for the first time that he has a torn ligament in his right big toe, further clouding an already murky forecast for his return, the Yankees’ offense produced just the bare minimum necessary for a victory.

put New York on the board with a fourth-inning homer off Texas starter Jon Gray. Three of McKinney’s four homers have come in his past five games, and he’s riding a 15-game on-base streak since being promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 7.

“I’ve always believed in myself, but it’s nice to get some results and help the team win,” McKinney said.

New York managed just four hits in all, none after Anthony Rizzo’s sixth-inning single, yet Severino and the bullpen completed the club’s fifth shutout of the year. The Yanks have had 11 of their past 16 games decided by two runs or fewer.

Working for the third time in four games, pitched a perfect seventh inning, and escaped from a threatening spot in the eighth, striking out Jung with runners at first and third.

“They were able to walk the line of going at guys, but not putting pitches in the middle of the plate,” Bauers said. “I didn’t see a lot of pitches that seemed very hittable today. To shut down a team like that, I think that speaks to the quality of our pitching staff.”

Boone’s call went to  in the ninth, a somewhat curious decision considering the righty hadn’t appeared since last Sunday at Boston. Lacking feel for his changeup, Marinaccio allowed a hit and a walk to open the inning, then shifted gears and leaned on his fastball. Two strikeouts and a popout followed, sealing Marinaccio’s second career save.

“I don’t think anybody in the bullpen will tell you they don’t like the ninth inning,” Marinaccio said. “We all want to be in there when the game matters the most. That’s the unique part about our bullpen; we’ve got a bunch of guys down there that can do it.”