This game was a trap. The Blue Jays came to the Bronx with the second worst team wRC+ in the American League. Luis Severino took the mound coming off arguably his best career start, at Fenway Park no less. It should have been that simple, but baseball never is. Instead, the Jays offense broke out and the Yankees pitching staff wilted. Toronto took game one by a score of 7 to 1.
We learned early on that Severino’s command, the thing that allowed him to be so successful in Boston, abandoned him. With no outs in the top of the second inning, he surrendered a two-run home run to Ryan Goins. Severino left a 95.9 mph fastball belt- high and Goins turned on it. He then walked the next batter, Luke Maile, on five pitches.
For context, Maile is a backup catcher with a career 49 wRC+. Severino pitched as if Barry Bonds was in the batter’s box. While he escaped the inning without further damage, it became clear that it was going to be one of those nights for the young right-hander.
It looked like Severino might grind this start out - at one point he retired eight batters in a row - but he unraveled in the sixth inning. It began with a Justin Smoak single off the glove of Greg Bird. Severino couldn’t run into any lucky outs. Devon Travis followed with a ground-rule double over the head of Aaron Judge. It seemed like a break because it prevented Smoak from scoring, but that would come soon enough.
Goins then came to the plate with two runners on and no outs. He squared up a 97.3 mph fastball and sent it deep to center field. Ellsbury crashed into the wall, but he made the play. With runners tagging, he tried to field the ball but instead lobbed it over Judge’s head. That allowed two runs to score. If that wasn’t bad enough, Severino served up a solo home run to Chris Coghlan to give the Blue Jays a 5 - 1 lead.
That solo shot finished Severino’s night. He allowed five runs on eight hits across 5.2 innings. His fastball command deserted him, and his slider had no bite. It was a tough start for Severino, but those happen. He’s been strong all season. Put this one behind you and try again in five days, Luis.
After Severino departed, the Yankees turned to Luis Cessa in relief. He struggled just as much, however, promptly allowing a two-run home run to Jose Bautista. That was his second home run of the season. Cessa ultimately pitched three innings, allowing a small parade of base runners in the process. It seems a foregone conclusion that he will be optioned for a fresh arm tomorrow. Tough night for pitchers named Luis.
The Yankees picked up their only run in fourth inning. It started with a one-out Starlin Castro single. He battled Marco Estrada - it was a 10 pitch at-bat - before tapping a bloop single into center field. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single of his own before Aaron Judge came to the plate. Instead of a tape-measure home run, Judge came through with a RBI single to right field. Bird then banged into an inning-ending double play, but not before the Yankees got on the board.
Estrada, for his part, was as good as advertised. He held the Yankees to one run on seven hits over seven innings. The soft-tossing right-hander kept the Yankees off balance all night. Matt Holliday looked especially baffled by Estrada’s repertoire. He struck out twice on the soft stuff. Danny Barnes closed things out for the Jays, pitching two uneventful innings. Better luck tomorrow, Yankees.
Game two of the series takes place tomorrow at 7:05 PM. Masahiro Tanaka squares off against Mat Latos. You can watch on YES or MLB.tv.