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Yankees 1, Rangers 0: Sevy dominant in six scoreless

Severino’s best start of the year could not have come at a better time.

Texas Rangers v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

A vintage Luis Severino start could not have come at a better time. His six scoreless innings neutralized the hottest offense in baseball. Tommy Kahnle, Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, and Ron Marinaccio combined for a final three scoreless frames, allowing Billy McKinney’s solo shot in the fourth to stand as the decisive blow in a 1-0 win over mighty Texas.

Severino narrowly avoided outright disaster in the first, giving up two long, loud fly balls before issuing a pair of two-out free passes to Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García. Josh Jung lined a single to right field, but a strong and accurate throw from Jake Bauers paired with a questionable send at third gunned down Lowe at home by five steps. On the plus side, Sevy’s fastball was averaging 97 in the first. On the other hand, his command was shaky at best and for some reason he shied away from the slider, instead throwing a ton of cutters that never threatened the zone.

Severino did manage to settle into the start from there on, retiring the side in order in the second before navigating around a Marcus Semien single in the third, a Jonah Heim double in the fourth, and another Semien single in the fifth.

The Yankees had their best chance of the early innings in the third, loading the bases on walks by Anthony Volpe and Gleyber Torres followed a Harrison Bader infield single on which Semien made a nice diving play that prevented Volpe from scoring. Unfortunately, Anthony Rizzo stranded all three ducks on the pond by striking out and it was hard not to feel yet again like it might be one of those days.

However, Billy McKinney put an immediate pin in those doubts, crushing a solo shot the following inning to open the scoring. It continues a remarkable stretch for McKinney as the team’s most productive batter in Aaron Judge’s absence — he’s now hit safely in 14 of his 15 games for the Yankees, batting .327 with four home runs since his call-up.

Also of note: It was interesting to see Volpe rocking a noticeably different batting stance. He was standing much deeper in the box and much closer to the plate than we’re used to seeing. He had a pronounced up and down wiggle to the bat whereas normally he tends to hold it pretty static high above his head, and his front hip was a good deal more closed at address. While the adjustments didn’t produce immediate results, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

Severino saved his best inning until last with a dominant display in the sixth. Sandwiched around a García single were his third and fourth strikeouts. He really leaned on his fastball throughout the outing, and while he only tallied four swings and misses and allowed an average exit velocity of almost 95 mph, he found that extra gear with runners on. It’s just the start he and the Yankees needed and hopefully serves as a springboard for the rest of his campaign. In six scoreless innings totaling 95 pitches, Sevy allowed five hits and two walks against four strikeouts, lowering his ERA a full run in the process.

The added difficulty of an offense incapable of scoring runs is that every pitcher coming out of the bullpen has to be perfect. The changeup-happy Kahnle did his part tossing a scoreless seventh, but Peralta was far less effective, surrendering a pair of singles to open the eighth. He struck out Lowe (with some help) before being pulled for Holmes, who redeemed himself for coughing up the tie last night, getting García to ground into a force out and striking out Jung to strand a pair and hold the Yankees’ tenuous lead intact.

With the bullpen budget used up on other top relievers, only Marinaccio was available to pitch the ninth with the slenderest of margins. He certainly made fans sweat, allowing the first two hitters to reach via single and walk. Well-timed mound visits by Kyle Higashioka and later Matt Blake seemed to be just what the righty reliever needed, as he struck out Ezequiel Duran and Leody Tavares before getting the dangerous Semien to pop out to seal the Yankees victory, 1-0.

It’s quite a feat to hold this Rangers offense to two runs in the first 18 regulation innings of the series, and the Yankees are quite fortunate that they managed to win today despite just scoring one run themselves. A win is a win in the books, though. They all count the same.

Gerrit Cole will look to continue the trend of pitching excellence tomorrow against Nathan Eovaldi as the Yankees go for the series victory. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread!

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