MINNEAPOLIS -- Yankees starter Luis Severino only went four innings and wasn’t even the winning pitcher.
He didn’t care. He didn’t hesitate when asked what the Yankees' series-clinching 5-1 victory over the Twins on Monday night in Game 3 of the American League Division Series meant to him.
“I think I got my revenge for what happened in ‘17,” Severino said in the jubilant visitors' clubhouse at Target Field as the Yankees celebrated their ALCS berth.
Severino pitched four scoreless innings in only his fourth start since missing five months because of rotator cuff inflammation. The Yankees, who had a rested bullpen, didn’t need any more than that from Severino, and now they await the winner of the Astros-Rays ALDS.
“I don’t care who we play,” Severino said.
This was Severino’s seventh postseason start. His first was against the Twins in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game, when the right-hander allowed three runs in the first inning before getting pulled with one out in the opening frame. He had a flashback to that game in the second inning Monday night, when it looked like the Twins were poised to do some serious damage.
Gleyber Torres gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with a home run in the second, but Severino ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Eddie Rosario led off with a double off the right-field wall, Mitch Garver drew a walk and Luis Arraez singled to left to load the bases.
“A lot of things go through your mind right then,” Severino said. “Like what happened in 2017. I was talking to myself saying, ‘You don’t want that to happen again. You’ve got to get out of this.’ So I just tried to keep making pitches.”
He did. Severino attacked Miguel Sano with fastballs and got him to pop out on a 98 mph heater. He then went to his slider to strike out both Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave. Severino walked off the mound with a demonstrative show of emotion and the Yankees' 1-0 lead intact.
“Yeah, I thought Sevy, he made so many big pitches,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It wasn't perfect there, and he obviously got into some big trouble there in the second inning, but just so proud of how he navigated. Bases loaded, no outs and he just locked it in and made pitches. I think that really kind of embodied the whole night as far as how our guys played.”
Down 2-0, the Twins mounted another rally in the third on a one-out single by Jorge Polanco and a two-out knock from Rosario. Severino then fell behind, 3-0, to Garver, but he rallied with three straight strikes. Garver went down swinging on another 98 mph fastball.
Severino retired the side in order in the fourth while right-hander Tommy Kahnle was warming up in the bullpen. But Severino's last out recorded was a line drive from Gonzalez with an exit velocity of 100.6 mph that was snagged by first baseman DJ LeMahieu.
Severino left the game after throwing 88 pitches, the most since he came off the injured list.
“I wanted to go farther,” Severino said. “I could have gone farther. But we just had a day off and the bullpen was fresh.”
Going forward, Monday's outing is another sign that Severino is getting back to the point the Yankees can count on him to potentially pitch 5-6 innings. That could be crucial now that the postseason moves to the best-of-seven stage with the ALCS.
“Yeah, I think he could,” Boone said. “I think he's probably kind of there now. So it will just be -- you know, each time out will be a little bit different, but I certainly think he's capable of kind of getting to that point. Some nights, we may not need that when we're set up how we are. We'll just kind of watch him and see how hard it is for him to navigate through some innings, but I feel like he's close to being there anyway.”