On Friday afternoon, Luis Severino got the ball for his third tune-up start of the spring. The end result was better than his first couple outings, and as an added bonus, the Yankees took advantage of an unlikely power source to capture a 4-3 win over the Tigers.
Severino went with a fastball-heavy approach during the first two innings, hovering around 94-97 mph as he went with the heater for half of his initial 28 pitches. The Tigers’ top five hitters in the lineup all went down in order and Sevy had Eric Haase 1-2 before hanging a slider in the middle of the plate that got walloped.
With the Tigers up 1-0, the bulk of the Yankees were quiet against Spencer Turnbull. Severino’s fellow TJS Scar Club member worked through the first two innings with ease before walking catcher Carlos Narvaez in the third. That created a near-gift run when Narvaez moved up to second on a passed ball and came around to score on Billy McKinney’s single through the right side. The hit tied the game and ended Turnbull’s day.
Reliever Kervin Castro replaced Turnbull and promptly allowed McKinney to steal second before walking DJ LeMahieu. With just one down, New York had a chance to do damage, but Oswaldo Cabrera flew out to center and Aaron Hicks went down on strikes to keep the score at 1-1.
Severino shifted from his 50-percent fastball approach in the first two frames to working on mostly secondary pitches in the third. With a mix of sliders and changeups complementing the occasional heater (and even a cutter and sinker), Sevy got two quick outs and three swinging strikes, but once again, the Tigers took him yard. Kerry Carpenter turned around an 0-2 heater that caught the inside part of the plate, and he hit one to the Joker Marchant concourse.
After one more inning back on the heavy fastball focus, Severino’s day was done. His stuff was crisp across 54 pitches in four innings of two-run ball that saw him fan three and walk none. Detroit did have four hits and two homers, so the next assignment will be getting through a spring start without a long ball.
As for the rest of the ballgame, the Yankees snatched the Tigers’ lead away in the top of the fourth. Lefty Joey Wentz relieved Castro by walking Rafael Ortega and coughing up a surprising 392-foot tank to right-center field from Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the infielder’s first homer of the spring:
IKF will need any offense that he can muster to prove that he should still have the starting role over both Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, so count it on the scoreboard. It was a good opposite-field swing! He earned that dinger.
The Yankees handed the 3-2 lead to Jhony Brito, our 10th-ranked Yankees prospect, who has a chance to put himself in the rotation depth conversation with both Carlos Rodón and Frankie Montas out. He did a fine job by walking none and striking out three batters, but like Severino, he did have a mistake in there that cost him. One of his four hits allowed was an Andrew Knapp homer to center field in the seventh.
A Baby Bomber rally in the ninth put New York back ahead, though. Matt Pita walked to lead it off, and though Detroit’s Billy Lescher fanned Jeisson Rosario, he threw away a pickoff attempt to move Pita up a base. One out later, Anthony Seigler hit one hard to right that could very well have been caught, but Parker Meadows failed to reel it in on the dive:
Running with two men down, Pita came around the score, the Yankees had a 4-3 lead, and big right-hander Matt Bowman picked a good time for his first clean inning of camp. A perfect ninth clinched the one-run victory.
Among probable Yankees starters, LeMahieu went 0-for-2 with a free pass and two strikeouts, Cabrera mixed a double in with his three at-bats, and Hicks was held hitless with a pair of K’s. The hitting star was that slugger we all expected: Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Obviously.
Tune in tomorrow for some split-squad doubleheader action with Pennsylvania teams, as the Yankees host the Phillies at GMS Field in Tampa while their travel squad visits the Pirates’ spring complex in Bradenton. First pitch for both games will come at 1:05pm ET.