Is the hype warranted?
Day 1 of Luis Severino's career didn't provide a concrete answer -- no truly thoughtful person figured it would -- but there were plenty of reasons for Yankees fans to start counting down the days until his next start to see what's to come.
The 21-year-old rookie righthander, making his major-league debut Wednesday night at the Stadium, was mostly terrific over five innings.
Unfortunately for the pitcher, the start came on a night when the Yankees' offense, which had scored 90 runs in its previous 10 games, was held in check by Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright in a 2-1 loss in front of 47,489.
"He was awesome, he definitely belongs," catcher John Ryan Murphy said of Severino. "I think he's going to end up being really good really soon."
Severino, the youngest pitcher to start a game in the majors this season, was pretty good, allowing two runs -- one earned -- and two hits. The righthander, whose fastball sat in the 94-96 mph range and peaked at 97 and who showed an array of quality off-speed stuff, did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
The plan for the Yankees (60-47), who saw their AL East lead over the Blue Jays trimmed to 41/2 games, is to continue to send the pitcher, who has no innings limitations, to the mound the rest of the way provided he produces.
"His poise," Chase Headley said, is what most impressed him. "There was a lot of hoopla surrounding all of this and he came out and seemed like he was focused and seemed comfortable . . . usually what separates guys here is the mental side of it and he seemed like he was on top of his game."
Veteran lefthander CC Sabathia focused on Severino's "mound presence."
"You can tell a lot by the way a guy is on the mound and he definitely has the presence," Sabathia said. "And a 92 mph slider? I mean, that thing is devastating."
Two pitches cost Severino (0-1), who said through a translator he felt no nerves.
There was Alejandro De Aza's RBI double off the wall, which came after a Headley throwing error that gave the Red Sox (48-60) a 1-0 lead in the second. And there was a 2-and-0, 96-mph, belt-high fastball that David Ortiz swatted into a rarely reached place in the right-center bleachers -- ESPN Stats and Info estimated it traveled 441 feet -- in the fourth that made it 2-0. "When you miss pitches here," Severino said. "You pay for it."
Wright (5-4, 4.12) mostly rolled over eight innings. The 30-year-old held the Yankees without a hit until Didi Gregorius' one-out single in the fifth, retiring 10 straight before that, and shut them out until Carlos Beltran's leadoff homer in the seventh made it 2-1. Wright allowed four hits and struck out a season-best nine.
"That's about as good as you can throw a knuckleball," Mark Teixeira said.
Koji Uehara entered in the ninth and with one out Teixeira singled, reaching when his broken-bat flare to right was incorrectly called a catch but overturned via replay. Chris Young pinch ran and went to second on a wild pitch. Beltran flew out and Headley walked, bringing up Brian McCann, pinch hitting for Gregorius.
McCann, battling left knee inflammation which is expected to keep him out of the starting lineup at least a couple of days, flew to center to end it, allowing Uehara to record his 24th save.
Still, Joe Girardi couldn't help but look at the night optimistically because of the possibilities Severino presents.
"I definitely think it's a positive for him," Girardi said, "and what he could mean for us going forward."