The Yankees were six outs away from victory on Tuesday night. Naturally the dumpster fire that is New York’s bullpen had other plans in mind, and the team wasted a Luis Severino gem. The prolonged losing streak has reached new levels of frustration. It’s become so bad that I’ve run out of pithy comments that segue into the score, so I’ll just say it instead. The Yankees fell to the White Sox by a score of 4 - 3.
It became clear early on that Severino was especially sharp on Tuesday night. Five of his first six outs came via the strikeout; he had all of his pitches working. The only trouble he ran into came during the third inning. Kevan Smith worked a leadoff single before advancing to second on a Yolmer Sanchez single. With two outs, Jose Abreu managed to fight off a low Severino changeup, sending it down the first baseline for a RBI single. That gave the White Sox a 1 - 0 lead.
Severino settled down after that. Over the next four innings, only two White Sox batters reached second base. He also recorded a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. What was the key to Severino’s success? Location had something to do with it.
The important piece here is his slider. The pitch fell out of the zone and White Sox batters swung right over it. Severino runs into trouble when he leaves those breaking pitches over the plate. That didn’t happen tonight. They were absolutely filthy, and the strikeouts back that up.
His final line on the night: one run on six hits over seven innings. Pair that with 12 strikeouts and no walks and you have a gem. At some point, you have to think Severino has pitched his way into All-Star consideration. He sits on a 3.15 ERA (3.08 FIP) through 94.1 innings this season. He’s been everything the Yankees have asked for and more.
For a while, it looked like Severino’s start would go for naught. Jose Quintana, rebounding from a rough start to the season, pitched like an ace. The best chance the Yankees had against the left-hander came in the fourth inning. The rally started when Gary Sanchez worked a two-out walk. Didi Gregorius followed with a single, the team’s first hit. With Tyler Austin at the plate, a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third. The Yankees were set up to score, but Austin struck out looking on a 91.5 mph fastball right down the middle.
Somehow Austin has played just as bad, if not worse, than Chris Carter. It was bad enough watching Carter swing at everything. Austin has done plenty of that, and he let Quintana get away with a meatball in a big spot. Greg Bird cannot get healthy soon enough.
Quintana kept the Yankees off balance with a steady diet of fastballs and curveballs. Outside of the fourth inning, he never found himself in much danger. He finished the night having allowed just two hits over 6.1 innings. He struck out six and walked only two. The left-hander figures to be a hot commodity come the trade deadline, and the Yankees should have some interest.
Fortunately the Yankees drove Quintana from the game in the seventh, making way for some old friends. Anthony Swarzak cleaned up the southpaw’s baserunner with a double play, before former farmhand Tommy Kahnle took over in the eighth. Kahnle — who has great warmup music — issued a one-out walk to Tyler Wade, making his major league debut pinch-hitting for Rob Refsnyder. A Jacoby Ellsbury single moved Wade to second, before a Chase Headley strike out threatened the rally.
Aaron Judge, however, had other plans in mind. The Yankees right fielder tapped a base hit through the left side of the infield, scoring a speedy Wade and tying the game. That was Judge’s 60th RBI on the season, which is absolutely insane to think about. The Bombers weren’t done yet, though. A booming double off the bat of Sanchez gave the Yankees a 3 - 1 lead with just six outs remaining.
The bullpen couldn’t hold it together, though. For reasons unknown, Joe Girardi turned to Domingo German with a two-run lead. The rookie right-hander lacked control and walked the only two batters he faced. After seeing a pitcher battle with an errant strike zone, Girardi found it to be a good idea to turn to Tyler Clippard. The embattled setup man instantly uncorked a wild pitch before walking the bases loaded. He looked completely lost, too. He missed the strike zone by a mile.
Through some act of providence, Clippard struck out Abreu and Avisail Garcia. Sure, he walked in a run with Todd Frazier, but he preserved the lead! A Matt Davidson strikeout ended the inning and gave Dellin Betances a chance at a save situation. Unfortunately, the inability to throw strikes that plagued German and Clippard proved infectious.
After picking up a quick first out, he loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter. That brought Melky Cabrera to the plate who (thankfully) flew out to left field. With two outs and the bases loaded, it became a showdown between Betances and Abreu. Betances lost the plate again, quickly running up a 2 - 0 count. Two pitches later and Abreu sent a ball into left field that gave the White Sox a walk-off win. Yuck. That was a terrible loss.
Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Rodon is the pitching matchup for game three. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM. I could sure use a complete game from Tanaka. I’m sick of this bullpen. Let’s make that happen please.