The gap between a great pitching performance and a losing one can sometimes be very thin. So it was for Luis Severino on Tuesday night. Six brilliant innings gave way to a seventh with one big mistake. Instead of earning his second victory of the season, the Yankees righthander ended up with his first loss in a 4-1 defeat to the White Sox at the Stadium.
With two men aboard because of Pete Kozma’s error, Severino threw a 2-and-0 slider that did not bite as almost every other one had. Avisail Garcia hammered it for a three-run homer to left that measured 429 feet according to Statcast.
It was a flip of the script in the head-to-head between Severino and Garcia. Severino struck him out in the second and fifth innings and Garcia looked fooled both times. It was three swing-and-miss pitches the first time. And the second time Garcia fouled off two full-count sliders before getting beaten with a 97 mph fastball.
“He was doing pretty good with me. A lot of sliders? Fastball at 98? He’s tough,” Garcia said. “But the second at-bat, [where] he threw me a lot of sliders and then got me with a fastball? The next time I went looking for what he threw me a lot.”
“I was trying throw a slider for a strike and he got me with it,” Severino said.
It is a loss and it does end an eight-game winning streak, but Severino and most of the Yankees seemed to come away focused more on the righthander’s first six innings. He was fast and efficient in those frames, making it through on just 69 pitches with the lone blemish a solo homer by Leury Garcia off a very well-placed pitch in the third inning.
“I feel great. I felt all my pitches were there,” Severino said. “I threw a couple changeups, the slider and the fastball command was good.”
Severino appears transformed this season, a better version of the one who successfully burst on the scene in 2015 and far better than the one who suffered a sophomore slump in 2016. He struck out 10 and walked none, giving him 27 strikeouts with only two walks in 20 innings this year.
The big keys were changing his delivery to reclaim his fastball accuracy and bringing back the changeup, his third pitch.
“Last year I was missing a lot. The fastball command wasn’t there. I didn’t have my changeup,” Severino said. “I think last year I was trying to rush to the plate and throw as hard as I can. This season I just try to hit the glove.”
So a little less effort is bringing more in terms of results. And as Severino said, “my confidence is there.”