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Severino sizzles with 6 of 9 K's at 99-plus mph

Yankees ace fires 8 scoreless; Stanton, Sanchez go back to back
June 16, 2018

NEW YORK -- As Luis Severino reached back for his high-octane heat, again and again, his teammates were afforded the luxury to sit back and relax on a Saturday afternoon. The ace had this one under control from the beginning, firing eight dominant innings as the Yankees breezed past the

NEW YORK -- As Luis Severino reached back for his high-octane heat, again and again, his teammates were afforded the luxury to sit back and relax on a Saturday afternoon. The ace had this one under control from the beginning, firing eight dominant innings as the Yankees breezed past the Rays, 4-1, for their 13th win in 16 games.
Severino ironed out early command issues to get it all working against an offense-starved order, permitting three hits and two walks while striking out nine in a 102-pitch gem. Six of Severino's strikeouts clocked 99 mph or higher, according to Statcast™; in the past decade, that had been accomplished only by Stephen Strasburg, who matched that in his 2010 debut.
"I was feeling good," Severino said. "I was having some issues with my slider in the beginning, but I was feeling very good. That's why I'm working on my changeup too, because I'm not always going to have my fastball and my slider."

In becoming the Majors' third 10-game winner, joining Corey Kluber of the Indians and Max Scherzer of the Nationals, Severino did it all -- even leaping to snare Carlos Gomez's fifth-inning popup to the surprise of catcher Gary Sanchez, who tossed away his mask but initially appeared to lose the ball in the sun.

While manager Aaron Boone lauded Severino's lively fastball as "great," Aaron Judge downplayed the performance as just a typical day at the office.
"I've played with him all the way through the Minor Leagues," Judge said. "This is what I expect out of Sevy: Go out there and just dominate. You go out there and expect to see him out there in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning. That's just what he does. So it's fun to be around. I've been spoiled getting to watch him over the years."
Gleyber Torres and Didi Gregorius picked up early run-scoring hits before Giancarlo Stanton and Sanchez supplied the thunder, belting back-to-back homers off Ryan Yarbrough in the fifth inning. It was the fifth time that the Yankees have hit consecutive homers this season, with Stanton launching his 16th and Sanchez showing signs of busting a 5-for-59 skid with his 13th.

"Everyone knows what we're capable of," Stanton said. "We've got to put it together out there. We did a good job today. Sevy was awesome as usual. We've got to take it into tomorrow."
Yarbrough hurled 3 2/3 innings on a Rays bullpen day and took the loss in relief of Ryne Stanek, who opened by recording the first four outs. Chasen Shreve surrendered a ninth-inning homer to Matt Duffy that broke up the shutout, but Albertin Chapman recorded the final three outs for his 20th save.

Judge contributed two hits and a run scored for the Yankees, who own the best winning percentage in baseball. Meanwhile, the Rays' woes in the Bronx continued; they have lost 13 of 15 games at Yankee Stadium since the beginning of the 2017 season.
"There's still room for improvement, all around," Judge said. "With guys on base, we can do a better job of driving guys in. We're doing well so far, but there's always room for improvement."

SOUND SMART
Yankees pitchers have posted a Major League-best 1.97 ERA (128 IP, 28 ER) in 14 June games, and have put up a zero in 74 of 84 frames over their past nine games (since June 6). The Yankees are a Major League-best 31-3 (.912) when their starter throws at least six innings.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Sanchez squinted skyward to spot Gomez's popup near home plate in the fifth inning, but believed he was under the ball. At the last moment, Sanchez felt Severino bounding past him, snatching the ball out of his glove.
"Once I turned around, the sun was right there in my eyes," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I was able to get in a good spot to catch it and that's when I heard some footsteps very close to me. I was very surprised he jumped and caught it. I think it's just his instinct to make a play there."

As Severino tossed the ball to first baseman Greg Bird, Sanchez stood with both hands on his hips, a bemused expression crossing his face. Severino nonchalantly slapped his teammate's chest protector, and Boone said the battery laughed about it once they returned to the bench.
"He was fine. Sevy and him are like brothers," Boone said. "I didn't hear the banter, but they were kind of going back and forth when they got back in the dugout. … It looked like to me he saw Gary kind of struggle with finding it and then went into 'go catch it' mode, which I thought was a smart thing to do."

HE SAID IT
"He's an athlete out there. I think he's just trying to win that Gold Glove, so he did a pretty good job of it. That was pretty impressive." -- Judge, on Severino's grab
UP NEXT
The 72nd annual Old-Timers' Day festivities will be held on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. ET for introductions, with the star-studded game to follow. The Yankees will then host the Rays at 2:05 p.m., as left-hander Carsten Sabathia (4-1, 3.27 ERA) heads to the hill looking for his third consecutive victory. Sabathia fired 5 2/3 scoreless innings last time out in a 3-0 win over the Nationals.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.