A rough first inning by Luis Severino had Yankees fans prepared for another meltdown Saturday, a common occurrence of late.
Domingo Santana’s home run gave the Brewers a three-run lead before the Yankees even came to the plate, an ominous beginning for a team that had lost 16 of its previous 22 games.
But Severino answered with one of his grittiest performances this season, keeping the Brewers off the board for the remainder of his outing. He went seven innings and struck out 10, allowing six hits, two walks and what was ruled a hit batsman.
His efforts, combined with perfect innings in the eighth and ninth by Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, set up Clint Frazier’s first career walk-off home run, a three-run shot with one out in the ninth inning that gave the Yankees a 5-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s big. It’s big for me and it’s big for the team,” said Severino, who is a first-time All-Star this season. “I feel like every time they call on somebody, some young guy, they do the job.”
Despite not having his best stuff, the 23-year-old retired nine in a row between the third and sixth innings and threw 101 pitches in the quality start.
Joe Girardi said he was impressed. “His slider wasn’t as good as it’s been in some other starts — I thought it was a little inconsistent today — but I thought he used his pitches and kept them in check,” Girardi said.
A controversial call in the first inning spelled trouble for Severino. With Eric Thames on second and two outs, Severino threw inside to Travis Shaw on an 0-and-1 count. When Shaw turned and told plate umpire Mike Estabrook that he had been hit by the pitch, Estabrook sent him to first base, prompting an argument from Girardi.
A review failed to overturn the call, although replays seemed to indicate that the pitch did not hit Shaw. That’s the way Severino saw it. “It didn’t hit him,” he said. “I thought it was a good pitch, a good pitch inside.”
The call proved important when Santana followed by hitting a three-run homer over the short rightfield porch.
Severino then settled down, keeping the Yankees afloat as they struggled to square up Brewers lefty Brent Suter. He held the Yankees hitless until Frazier’s two-out single in the fifth and scoreless until Chase Headley scored on an errant pickoff attempt in the seventh.
Frazier tripled home Jacoby Ellsbury a few pitches later, cutting the deficit to 3-2, before ripping a 1-and-0 pitch over the auxiliary scoreboard in leftfield with two men on base in the ninth.
Severino said he was in the clubhouse for the big hit but couldn’t contain himself when it happened: “I saw that and jumped up and touched the ceiling over there.”