On Tuesday, when it was announced that he would be the Yankees’ starting pitcher in Wednesday night’s AL Wild Card Game, Luis Severino had this to say:
“I just want to win. Whatever happens. If I can go four good innings and then the bullpen comes, that would be great.”
Severino did give the Yankees four good innings against the A’s. Four no-hit, shutout innings, to be exact, in a 7-2 victory
After the first two A’s hitters singled in the fifth, manager Aaron Boone called in Dellin Betances, who retired two hitters on fly balls before striking out AL home run champ Khris Davis to send the game to the bottom of the inning with the Yankees leading 2-0 on Aaron Judge’s first inning home run.
Severino’s final line: four innings, two hits, four walks, seven strikeouts and 87 pitches. And a big, fat zero in the runs column.
Severino started last year’s Wild Card Game, too, as you no doubt remember. He lasted one-third of an inning in his first postseason start and left with the Yankees in a 3-0 hole. The Yankees went on to beat the Twins, 8-4, and Severino went on to pitch well the rest of the postseason as the Yankees made it to within one game of the World Series.
On Wednesday, Severino came out hot in a fired-up Yankee Stadium. He struck out leadoff man Nick Martini on three fastball — 95, 97 and 98 miles per hour— and finished a 1-2-3 inning by striking out Jed Lowrie on a 98-mph heater.
Judge gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer to left off A’s opener Liam Hendriks.
Severino struck out the side in the second, all on sliders. He walked Matt Olson with one out, the first sign that Severino would face control issues.
Severino walked Marcus Semien to open the third before recording strikeout No. 6 against Jonathan Lucroy. Martini followed with a grounder to Luke Voit at first that could have been a double play, but Voit’s throw to second was wide and Didi Gregorius made an athletic play to catch the ball and keep his foot on the bag for the second out. Severino then got Matt Chapman on a liner to right.
Still trailing 2-0, the A’s loaded the bases in the fourth on a throwing error by Miguel Andujar, a walk to Olson and a two-out walk to Ramon Laureano.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited Severino as Betances began to warm up in the bullpen. Severino struck out Semien on a 99-mph fastball on his 82nd pitch to end the inning.
“I can’t describe it,” Severino said. “It was something amazing. That’s a huge inning right there. They could tie the game or get ahead. So it was big.”
Lucroy opened the fifth with Oakland’s first hit, a single to left. Martini followed by grounding a single to right. In came Betances and out went Severino to a thunderous round of applause.
“We’ve got a great group of guys to help each other,” Severino said. “Young guys, veteran guys. We help each other. We have a great bullpen. We have one of the best bullpens in the game. So I saw Betances and I said, ‘This is over.’ ”
Boone had foreshadowed such a move on Tuesday.
“As far as with Sevy, hopefully he pitches deep into this game, and if he’s pitching well, he’ll have that kind of opportunity,” Boone said. “But obviously with our bullpen and what we’ll have available at our disposal, we’ll also be very aggressive in making moves or trying to set up the best matchups, depending on the game.”