As important as each win is for the Yankees, the race for the postseason seemed to take a back seat as Luis Severino pitched for the first time in two years. The former ace threw the final two innings of the 7-1 victory, striking out a pair. It was one of those moments that reminds us why we love baseball, to see how much his return meant to him, his teammates, and the fans in Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees offense took some time to get into full gear, but managed to steadily increase their lead until Aaron Judge’s knockout blow in the seventh. He, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo all homered, offering a glimpse of the true potential of this slugger-studded lineup.
After cruising through the first three innings, Jordan Montgomery encountered some difficulty in the fourth. However, he righted the ship and ultimately gave the Yankees 5.2 innings of one-run ball. Michael King and Severino pitched lights-out to wrap this one up and put a bow on a special night.
The Yankees gave Montgomery a first inning run of support — a rarity on days he pitches. Anthony Rizzo reached on a hit by pitch and advanced to third on a Judge double into the right-center gap. Stanton brought Rizzo home on a broken-bat dribbler to the shortstop for the early 1-0 lead.
They put runners on second and third in the second via a Gleyber Torres walk and Brett Gardner double, but neither Gio Urshela nor DJ LeMahieu could get the job done. It has been quite shocking to see the disappearance in production from those two hitters this year, especially in run-scoring situations. Each has lost roughly 100 points off their average with runners in scoring position relative to the last two seasons, which is a large part of why the Yankees’ offense has stagnated this year.
Stanton on the other hand kept on delivering tonight. With two outs in the third, he spun on an 0-1 inside slider, sizzling a solo shot just inside the left-field foul pole to double the Yankees’ advantage, 2-0. The ball left his bat at 118.5 mph — his third-hardest-hit home run this season — and landed 415 feet away in a flash. It almost seemed like the ball was still rising when it reached the seats.
118.5 mph off the bat. That'll do. pic.twitter.com/nTC303zQVM— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 22, 2021
Montgomery looked sharp in the early innings. He collected a pair of strikeouts in the first and the third, needing only 43 pitches to complete the first three frames. However, he ran into some trouble in the fourth.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off with a walk and Andy Ibáñez followed with a single off the wall in right to put runners on the corners. Kiner-Falefa would come around to score on a Nick Solak groundout, but Montgomery locked it in from there to escape the inning with only the lone run surrendered.
After a quiet fourth, the Yankees offense put together a mini-rally in the fifth. Urshela, LeMahieu, and Rizzo led off the inning with three straight singles — Rizzo’s bringing Urshela around to score to make it 3-1, Yankees.
Unfortunately, two-straight hot shots to third from Judge and Stanton killed the rally in its tracks, including the obligatory inning-ending double play. You could credit Yonny Hernández with two nice defensive plays... but really, GET THE BALL OFF THE DANG GROUND!*
*Thankfully, Judge would later oblige ... and then some.
Montgomery got two quick groundouts in the sixth, but an Ibáñez double knocked him from the contest. King mopped up the final out getting García to groundout. It was another typically excellent outing from Montgomery, inducing a whiff rate of over 30 percent on both the changeup and curveball as well as inducing a ton of soft contact. He left the game with only a two-run lead, but this is Monty we’re talking about, so three runs is a veritable deluge of offensive support. His final line: 5.2 innings, four hits, one run, one walk, and six strikeouts on 93 pitches.
Gallo extended the Yankees’ lead to 4-1 in the bottom half. He clobbered a first-pitch elevated fastball into the second deck in right. The ball was tattooed at 108.6 mph, landing 395 feet away, and came off the bat with a launch angle more than double Stanton’s blast.
We're far from the Gallo now. pic.twitter.com/7yQVbFnuub— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 22, 2021
King came back out for the seventh and pitched like a man possessed. He struck out the side on 10 pitches, and arguably was robbed of his second immaculate inning of the season on this questionable ball call:
King has looked like a new pitcher since returning from injury. His fastball has gained a few mph while his breaking ball features considerably more depth. In four relief outings off the IL, King has surrendered only two runs on two hits and one walk while striking out 10 across 9.1 innings.
The Yankees really broke this one open in the seventh courtesy of Aaron Judge. After LeMahieu and Rizzo reached via walk and hit by pitch respectively, Judge drilled a hanging 1-0 cutter one row shy of the bleachers in right. The 109.1-mph, 415 foot missile gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead and allowed us to sit back and enjoy the magic that followed next.
After 707 days, Luis Severino finally made his much-anticipated return for the Yankees. He wasted no time getting into his groove, striking out the first batter he faced on a filthy changeup:
Severino got another strikeout on the slider to end the eighth. In the ninth, he navigated around a García single to complete his two-inning outing. The fastball sat around 95 mph while the slider and changeup featured the late break and depth that made Severino such a dominant pitcher before injury.
And so the Yankees won this one pretty easily, 7-1. It was an all-around team performance, capped off by Severino’s triumphant return. Unfortunately, both the Red Sox and Blue Jays won, so the Yankees did not gain any ground in the AL Wild Card race. That said, they are still only a half game out, and every win matters.
They will go for the sweep tomorrow with Corey Kluber on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, so we hope to see you then.