Severino follows strong outing with better one for Yanks

Righty sets season bests with seven innings and eight K's to win second straight start

August 29th, 2023

DETROIT -- On Wednesday, left the mound at Yankee Stadium to a standing ovation.

It had been a while, and Severino wasn’t shy afterward when talking about what the gesture meant. And so, when the Yankees’ beleaguered starter took the mound on Monday night at Comerica Park, it was natural that he wanted to keep the good vibes flowing.

So Severino upped his game, following his 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Nationals with seven scoreless against the Tigers. He struck out a season-high eight and induced 11 groundouts, and when all else failed -- which wasn’t often -- Severino relied on the defense behind him while the offense kept plugging away.

The result was a 4-1 Yankees win over the Tigers, which got the four-game series off on the right foot for all those involved.

“There’s nights like that,” said Severino, whose team has not won a series since sweeping the Royals from July 21-23. “When you feel your stuff is there, when you feel your fastball is there -- when you have those kinds of nights, you have to use it.”

It has been a long season for the Bronx Bombers, and even more so for Severino, the two-time American League All-Star who won consecutive starts for the first time this year. As the team tries to turn the corner and finish strong in September -- the Yankees are 3-3 since a nine-game losing streak -- Severino will certainly be a part of the push.

“[Wednesday’s start] was important,” manager Aaron Boone said before Monday’s game. “And hopefully now it's something that springboards him even more and can get him going the rest of the way like we know he's capable of.

“It was good to see, and a testament to him continuing to fight through what's been a difficult time for him. It's good to see him competing the way he is.”

Gleyber Torres, who doubled in the game’s first run in the fifth inning, went deep back to back with Aaron Judge in the seventh to mark the second straight game the Yankees homered in consecutive at-bats and the seventh time this season.

Torres was sharp in the field as well, stretching to stop a Kerry Carpenter liner in the fourth, then firing across his body as he ran the opposite way to get the inning-ending out at first.

Not to be outdone, center fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa sprinted to the warning track in left-center field to rob Parker Meadows of a hit in the fifth inning.

The former earned an emphatic glove clap from Severino; the latter, a smile and a point of recognition in Kiner-Falefa’s direction. Severino was having fun, New York was in control and, for a little while, it felt like old times.

“For [Severino] to show up every single day and continue to compete, continue to try to improve … that's what it's all about,” Judge said. “That's the type of guy he's always been. … He's a bulldog. To see him have success the past couple of outings is great.”

The crowd in Detroit might not have cheered with adoration as Severino caught Spencer Torkelson swinging at a high-and-tight 99 mph four-seamer to end the sixth. But that was OK, too, because something even better happened.

Severino let loose one of his trademark fist pumps -- the fully engaged celebration of yore, bent over and punctuated with a victory howl. His outing ended one inning later, after he’d coaxed Javier Báez into an inning-ending groundout, slapped his glove for emphasis and walked off the field, head held high.

“I’m getting better,” said Severino, laughing. “[I’m] working through everything that happened, getting better, not letting all that stuff get to me and just focusing on the present and the games we have.”

Something has definitely shifted in Severino in the past week.

The success is coming back, and with it, the swagger has returned as well.

Both have lain dormant for a while. But as Severino’s season begins to swing back the way he’d hoped, a glimpse of the guy who won 19 games in 2018 is beginning to shine through again.

“It looks like he's really turning it around, so that's a really good sign,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “... It looked like he does when he’s at his best, and I think tonight, he was definitely at his best.”