The Yankees were nearly no-hit by underperforming former ace Lucas Giolito in their last game, so it was fair to wonder whether Lance Lynn—who similarly hasn’t looked like himself over the past year and change—would also receive a lifeline in the Bronx sans Aaron Judge.
That didn’t happen, but Luis Severino helped him out by providing a spark for a White Sox offense that ranked 26th in the majors in wRC+ coming into the game. After a clunker his last time out, and renewed injury concerns amidst a downturn in velocity, Severino didn’t do much to quell those worries. Still, he kept the game close, and it was ultimately Michael King who blew the lead on a blast by Eloy Jiménez in a 6-5 loss. The defeat also secured an embarrassing home series loss for the Yankees at the hands of the scuffling ChiSox.
Severino’s velo looked good out of the gate, but his control was shaky, as he walked two of the first six hitters he faced while a third at-bat went to a full count. Then, with one of those walks on base, Kyle Higashioka set up low for an 0-1 fastball on Jake Burger, whose .606 slugging percentage coming into the game was second in the AL to Aaron Judge’s. Hurlers have rightfully been throwing him an above-average rate of low pitches in an attempt to diminish his power. That was Severino’s intent on this offering, but his poor execution resulted in a high pitch for a homer:
The Yankees struck back in the bottom half of the inning. Billy McKinney, a former top prospect who made his MLB debut in pinstripes in 2018 before entering journeyman status, hit a two-out triple in his first at-bat back in the Bronx. Kyle Higashioka then drove him in with another right-center gapper for a double:
With Higgy on second, the lineup flipped back to the top. Temporary leadoff man Willie Calhoun, in his first game atop the lineup since 2021, embraced the spirit of the role by dribbling one through the open left side for an RBI single:
But Severino gave the Sox the lead right back in the top of the third. He yielded two more homers off of poorly-located four-seamers, marking his fifth and sixth allowed in his previous seven innings at that point after giving up just one in his first 11.1 frames of the season. The first of the third-inning pair in today’s game came on a 2-1 offering to the White Sox’s most consistent threat in Luis Robert Jr., another heater that was seemingly meant to be low but drifted up in the zone:
That ball, 107.6 mph off the bat, sailed 424 feet to dead center. Then, two batters later, with Higgy setting up low and outside, Yoán Moncada got a fastball high and in, which he drove 385 feet into right-center:
For an 0-0 pitch, it certainly wasn’t a meatball, but Severino clearly missed his spot nonetheless. And the fastball velocity on those two four-seamers hit over the fence? 94.9 and 95.4. Yep, it was down again after sitting at 96 and topping out at 97.4 in the first two frames. On the day, it averaged 95.6, just over half a tick better than last time but down from 96.7 and 97.8 in his first two starts.
Thankfully, the Yankees’ offense, and specifically Calhoun, wasn’t done. After Higashioka singled on a soft liner off the top of Moncada’s glove with one gone in the bottom of the fourth, Calhoun drove him in again, this time with more fanfare:
Severino’s four-seam velo continued to hover around 95, but he survived through five on the strength of his changeup, which he used five times in a six-pitch strikeout of Burger to end his day. On the whole, he generated 10 whiffs on his slider and change, which is solid, but he got just one on 33 heaters for a three-percent swinging-strike rate. Undoubtedly, the diminished velocity played a role, but it’s hard to imagine him achieving success with more than six percent fewer swinging strikes on his four-seamer.
Nonetheless, Sevy’s scoreless fifth afforded the Yankees the opportunity to take their first lead of the game in the bottom half. Jake Bauers embraced that challenge, doubling on a 108.8-mph liner to right field with one out. Then Romy Gonzalez made a nice sliding grab on a soft DJ LeMahieu liner for the second out:
But Oswaldo Cabrera’s 101.8-mph grounder was out of everyone’s reach, and Bauers came around to score:
Through five innings, with the Yankees ahead 5-4, the two clubs combined for 21 balls hit over 95 mph out of 35 balls in play — a 60 percent hard-hit rate. Eleven of those were hit over 100 mph.
When the bullpens came in, it initially looked like things might settle down. Jimmy Cordero and Wandy Peralta combined for a scoreless sixth inning for the Yankees, and Gregory Santos notched a 1-2-3 bottom half for the White Sox. But then Michael King allowed a pair of extremely hard-hit balls to start the seventh. The first, a Robert double 109.1 mph off the bat down the left field line, marked the center fielder’s third hit of the game. The second, an Eloy Jiménez homer 108.3 mph off the bat and 416 feet into the Yankees’ bullpen, represented Chicago’s fourth long ball of the game and put them up 6-5:
As for the Bombers’ bats, the White Sox retired 10 (including Santos’ frame) in a row after Cabrera’s RBI single. Closer Kendall Graveman ended that unfortunate streak by walking Josh Donaldson, who was pinch-hitting for Kyle Higashioka, to begin the bottom of the ninth. Volpe pinch-ran for Donaldson, and was on the move when Isiah Kiner-Falefa (in for Willie Calhoun on defense) hit a soft liner to Gonzalez at second. This one he couldn’t corral, perhaps because Volpe was dashing by him, and IKF was generously awarded a hit.
After nearly missing a homer on a foul down the right field line, Gleyber Torres’ next foul was a popup for the first out. Anthony Rizzo, 1-for-19 since returning from a neck injury, ended the game by grounding into a double play, but even that wasn’t without intrigue as the Yankees challenged the out call at second. That last half-inning embodied what was a tough and frustrating loss for the Bombers.
For the nightcap, rookie Randy Vásquez will take the hill as the Yankees’ 27th man against Mike Clevinger in his second start off the IL. The game is scheduled to start at 7:35pm ET as the Yankees look to avoid an ugly sweep.