Aaron Judge had two tough doubles that led to two runs Wednesday night, and the packed house at Yankee Stadium simply groaned.
The Yankees slugger is still one home run short of tying Roger Morris’ record of 61, but he doesn’t mind. The Bombers got two homers from Gleyber Torres in one inning, a grand slam from Osvaldo Cabrera and perhaps most importantly, a very encouraging return from Luis Severino as the Yankees routed the Pirates 14-2 in the Bronx.
“I don’t know if it was foul or what, I don’t think I heard any applause on the second take,” said Judge, who pulled himself up when he heard groans when he made the first round take on the main rules. “I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know if it was a foul ball or not.
“The fans packed the house to see us win the ballgame and see some homers, so I think I have to give up that double.”
Judge went 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout on Wednesday, but that was all the Yankees (90-58) needed to win their third straight game and drop the magic number to clinch a playoff berth to two. The Bombers have won seven of their last nine games and 11 of 15.
Torres opened an eight-run eighth inning with his 22nd homer of the season and then singled for his 23rd in the same frame. Cabrera hit his first career grand slam in the first inning, just his third career home run, to set the tone — and impress the umpire.
“Whatever the opponent is, day in and day out, it doesn’t matter the score, the situation, he’s out there giving us great hits,” Judge said of the versatile rookie, who started a game in left field for the second time in his career. “You know, he gives us a chance when he plays right field, left field, shortstop, first base a little bit. I think just having that versatility with him is big time for our success.”
Yankees hit a major league-leading 10 and team record Grand Slam this seasonincluding four against Pirates pitchers.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway on Wednesday was that the Yankees got some confidence in their pitching staff with Severin’s first start since July 13. The right-hander looked sharp, holding the Pirates to two hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out six.
“It’s big time, especially with Frankie [Montas] going down, he was a big part of our rotation,” Judge said of Severin’s return. “But returning is another big part of our rotation. What I liked, what I saw tonight, is that he put 97-98 there [miles an hour of velocity] works on fast pitches and attacks. He’s a bulldog on the mound and you know he’s definitely going to be a big piece down the stretch.”
Severino returned just a day after the team found out Montas would be out close for at least 10 days and not knowing his status until the end of the season. The Bombers signed Montas specifically for his success against the Rays and Astros and with the idea that he would be their No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole in a playoff series.
Mantos has struggled since the Yankees acquired him from Oakland, and now that he’s been shut down with the same shoulder inflammation that cost him A’s status for more than two weeks, it’s fair to wonder if he’s ever been healthy . He certainly hasn’t proven himself as a No. 2 starter with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.
But Severino certainly showed that he can be a weapon throughout.
It’s been three long injury-plagued years since Severino made the 2018 All-Star Game, but he came back from Tommy John surgery in 2020 stronger, with good stuff and the same bulldog mentality he had spoke out against the team in July.
Severino missed the entire 2020 season due to elbow surgery. After appearing in just seven games in 2019 and 2021 due to surgery and a strained lat, Severino posted a 3.45 ERA in his first 16 starts this season. He struck out 95 in 86.1 innings.
“I was happy that my velocity was there and I think the two best pitches I threw tonight were two base hits,” Severino said. “So I was pretty happy with my night.”