Luis Severino waited 45 days, not by choice, to return there. The Yankees right-hander came out and made the most of his first start since July 13 on Wednesday night. Severino allowed one run and two hits over five innings. Osvaldo Cabrera hit a first-inning grand slam and Gleyber Torres hit a two-run homer in the eighth as the Bombers beat the Pirates 14-2 at Yankee Stadium.
It was the third straight win for the Yankees (90-58), their seventh in their last nine, and the magic number to clinch a playoff spot has dropped to two.
Aaron Judge doubled twice and was met with groans from the sold-out crowd that came to the Bronx on Wednesday to see him make history. With 60 home runs and Roger Morris’ family on the field, he’s still one shy of Morris’ AL and Yankee single-season home run records. Judge also grounded out, hit a hit and walked four straight in the Yankees’ eight-run eighth.
Cabrera’s first inning grand slam was his third career home run. The Yankees went away Giancarlo Stanton’s grand slam victory on Tuesday nightit was the second time they hit back-to-back innings slams.
The Yankees saw a very good sign for their postseason hopes. Severino should be a big part of their playoff rotation, especially with a return like he has. He got ahead of hitters using his fastball, recording 15 first downs out of the 18 Pirates he faced.
“I really wanted to go back there for 45 days,” Severino said Tuesday. stressing that he was feeling well after his usual 15-day stay in IL. “Very excited to come back and contribute to the team.”
For the Yankees, the timing couldn’t be better for Severin to come out and prove he’s healthy for a postseason run. The right-hander returns from the injured list days after the team learned that Frankie Montas would be the 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 years of major injuries since Severino made the All-Star Game in 2018, but he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2020 stronger, with good stuff and the same bulldog mentality that made him speak his mind against the team in July.
After playing just over 27 games over the previous three seasons due to surgery and a lat strain that cost him nearly the entire 2019 season, Severino has posted a 3.45 ERA in his first 16 starts this season. He struck out 95 in 86.1 innings.
The Yankees, from general manager Brian Cashman to manager Aaron Boone, insisted it was not a load-management maneuver. There was concern about the workload of both Severino, who has been limited by injuries, and Nestor Cortez Jr., who has never pitched a heavy innings before in his young career, heading into the season.
Instead, Cashman doubled down that Severin’s tension in the lats required a very deliberate build-up. Severino, who of course had injury experience from 2019, disagreed. The day the Yankees acquired Montas at the trade deadline, the Yankees decided to move Severino from the regular 15-day IL to the 60-day IL. That coincidentally freed up a spot on the 40-man roster for Montas and Lou Trivino, who they acquired together from Oakland. They made the move without telling Severino, who told reporters that day that he was “not happy.”
Severino and Cortez Jr., who spent 15 days in the IL in August with what the team said was a left groin strain, could be critical to the Yankees’ rotation down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Cole may be their No. 1 starter by definition, but he’s struggled to keep the ball on the field. His penchant for giving up home runs this season certainly brings back memories of being yanked early after going two homers and three earned runs without recording an out in the 2021 American League Wild Card Game.