HOUSTON — The last time Luis Severino took the mound in this building he left it in frustration.
Wednesday night he walked off it having thrown the first complete game of his career.
With the ace tossing a five-hitter and Giancarlo Stanton homering twice off a suddenly mortal-looking Dallas Keuchel, and collecting three hits and four RBIs overall, the Yankees beat the Astros, 4-0, at Minute Maid Park.
“It was dominating with three pitches,” Aaron Boone said of Severino, who took the loss here in Game 6 of the Yankees’ seven-game loss in the 2017 ALCS. “I felt like for most of the night he was on cruise control and just lighting it up. It was a special outing.”
The Yankees (20-10), who shut out the Astros (20-12) by the same score Tuesday, will try to win three of four here Thursday afternoon that would complete a 6-1 trip that started Friday in Anaheim.
Severino (5-1, 2.11), who threw 110 pitches in striking out a season-high 10 and walking one, politicked Boone to allow him to take the mound in the ninth (he was at 98 pitches).
“I wouldn’t want to be in the box facing him,” Stanton said afterward. “He’s going to pound the zone with 100 mph and if you look on time for that, you’re going to get that 90-mph slider. Exactly what we needed tonight and another par for the course outing from him.”
Boone called the decision to leave Severino in a “tough call,” but with him continuing to reach 99 mph with his fastball and his slider and his changeup still giving the Astros fits, he believed the pitcher when he told him he felt strong.
Severino, aided by a terrific play on a soft liner behind second by Gleyber Torres with two on in the seventh — the only inning in which two batters reached — laughed when asked if he thought he’d get a chance at the complete game.
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “When he told me, I was happy. I was feeling good.”
Of the complete game, Severino said: “That means a lot. This [Houston] is a great team, a great fastball hitting team. To go nine innings, that’s very special.”
It was the performance of the season far for the Yankees from the mound, and Stanton did the same from the plate.
The outfielder, off to a mostly brutal start as a Yankee and 3-for-20 on this trip coming in, ripped an opposite-field two-run homer off Keuchel in the first inning. Then he hammered one into the seats in left in the fourth to make it 3-0. It was Stanton’s seventh homer.
Keuchel (1-5, 3.98 ERA), who went 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA over his first eight career starts against the Yankees before getting hammered in Game 5 of last year’s ALCS, allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings Wednesday.
Boone, coincidentally, delivered a pep talk Tuesday night to Stanton after a 0-for-4 night.
“[I told him] there’s going to be many a nights when you carry us when the rest of the team’s struggling,” Boone said. “He’s like, ‘I know.’ He carried the offense tonight, that’s for sure.”
Said Stanton: “It’s been a long time coming, but you just have to be patient and know that it’s a long season. They’re going to be games like this and there’s going to be games where you’re on the other side of this. But it’s great to hear that, for sure.”
After Aaron Hicks doubled to start the eighth, Stanton poked a double to right off Hector Rondon to make it 4-0.
“He’s a great player,” Severino said of Stanton. “At the end of the season he’s going to hit 50 homers. I don’t care what everybody’s saying. He’s a great hitter and he’s going to continue doing this stuff.”