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Yankees 0, Braves 5: Back to .500 as Sevy struggles again

New York mustered only one hit on offense as they clinched their return to the symbol of mediocrity.

Luis Severino in the first inning of tonight’s contest.
Luis Severino in the first inning of tonight’s contest.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

While the Yankees’ pitching staff avoided another double-digit shellacking tonight, they still looked lost in a 5-0 defeat. As he has all season, Luis Severino tantalized with velocity and stuff, but he made too many mistakes once again, and an early exit forced the Yankees to use four other pitchers. And as they have all season, the Yankees’ bats also made the opposing starter look like an ace. New York fell in a one-hit shutout that sank the team back to .500 for the first time since May 1st.

Things got off to an even worse start than last night, as the Yankees went down in order in the top half of the first and Severino let in a three-spot, furthering the Braves’ pursuit of the most first-inning runs in baseball history. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a single, and a noticeably-jumpy Sevy tried to pick him off only to throw the ball away. It ultimately wouldn’t matter, as Acuña would’ve come around to score on a Marcell Ozuna homer anyway. Oh yeah, and Sevy walked Matt Olson with a non-competitive full-count fastball before that too, so it was a three-run shot.

Sevy actually settled down after that, retiring 9 of the next 11 hitters he faced — with one of those baserunners being an Isiah Kiner-Falefa error, one of a series of shoddy plays on the left side of the infield — before he gave up his requisite second homer of the night to a Brave. This time, it was the NL MVP favorite Acuña:

Unlike the Ozuna homer, which came on a hanging first-pitch slider, this 1-1 heater was fairly well-located. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter when you’re facing Acuña. On the night, however, Severino’s heater was pretty good. It notched seven whiffs and five called strikes on 43 offerings, while aside from the Acuña homer, all seven balls in play against it were outs. It also averaged 97.8 mph.

In terms of his secondaries, Severino leaned mostly on his cutter. It was sharp, with four whiffs and six called strikes on 19 offerings. But the changeup and slider lagged, perhaps because Sevy didn’t have the time to get a good feel for the pitches. Those secondaries have been better in other starts, so if he can put it all together in one outing, there’s certainly still a chance at success.

But in this one, Severino couldn’t corral the Braves’ offense, while Elder stifled the Yankees’. Through seven scoreless innings, the young sinkerballer allowed just one hit, which he ultimately erased with one of his three double plays on the night. Gleyber Torres was on the wrong end of two of those twin killings, putting him at six GIDPs over the past six games, the most ever recorded by a Yankee in a span of that length:

As Suzyn Waldman noted on the WFAN broadcast, “I mean, to have a record is lovely, but not that one.”

DJ LeMahieu’s second-inning single was the Yankees’ only hit on the entire night. After Elder departed, the Braves’ bullpen rolled over the ghastly offense and fittingly ended the game with another ground-ball double play. This time, the pitching benefactor was former Yankees hurler Kirby Yates, adding insult to injury. With the loss, New York is now 60-60, the latest in a season they’ve been .500 or worse in 28 years.

The New York bullpen, which had to pick up the slack for a second-straight game, worked into and out of trouble over four scoreless innings across four different pitchers. Clay Holmes and Jonathan Loáisiga looked the sharpest, which bodes well given that the former was coming off of a true blowup and the latter was making just his third appearance after a long injury layoff.

Nevertheless, the Yanks will likely be counting on some extra innings from Michael King and Randy Vásquez, who’ll be piggybacking in the series finale against the Braves tomorrow. They’ll face off against the veteran Charlie Morton, with first pitch once again scheduled for 7:20 pm ET, but with the fleeting hope for a different result.

Box Score