LOS ANGELES — Luis Severino was surprisingly sharp in his first two starts after coming off the injured list, showing almost no signs of rust.
Start No. 3?
A complete train wreck.
Severino,with his usual high-90s fastball down 2 to 3 mph, was torched for six first-inning runs, putting the Yankees in an insurmountable hole against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Friday night in an 8-4 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 52,534 at Dodger Stadium.
The Yankees (34-25) were excited about this series against the Dodgers (35-23), the first in this typically electric atmosphere since 2019. But that balloon was quickly punctured as the Dodgers, who came into the night leading the National League in runs per game (5.60), runs (319), home runs (96) and extra-base hits (215), among others, flexed their muscle from the start.
Mookie Betts, who hit two home runs for a second straight game, led off the first with a homer, the first of two in the inning and four total by Los Angeles. The Yankees were outhit 13-5, with Josh Donaldson hitting a pair of home runs and Giancarlo Stanton adding a solo shot to account for all of their runs. Both were playing for the first time since April, activated after lengthy stints on the injured list.
Severino, with a 1.59 ERA after his first two starts, allowed seven runs, nine hits and a walk in four innings as he fell to 0-1.
Kershaw allowed two runs — on solo homers by Donaldson (446 feet) and Stanton (417 feet) — four hits and a walk in seven innings. Kershaw, all but certain to be Cooperstown-bound five years after he retires, struck out nine in improving to 7-4, 3.25 this season.
Kershaw required only two pitches to record his first two outs, but not in the way one might imagine, and needed only five pitches to get through the first inning. Gleyber Torres, who has flourished in the leadoff spot, lined Kershaw’s first pitch of the night, a 92-mph fastball, to center for a single that improved him to 17 for his last 49 (.347). Aaron Judge, named the AL’s Player of the Month for May earlier in the day, swung at a first-pitch 92-mph fastball and hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Anthony Rizzo struck out on three pitches, taking a called third strike.
The Dodgers sent 10 to the plate (11 if you count Freddie Freeman, who was up when James Outman was picked off third to end the inning) in the bottom half.
Betts, who inflicted his share of damage on the Yankees during his years with the Red Sox, led off and crushed a down-the-middle 95-mph fastball to left for his 14th homer to make it 1-0. And the inning would get much, much worse for Severino.
With one out, Will Smith hit a ground shot to short. Anthony Volpe made a diving stop in the hole and threw a two-hopper across to Anthony Rizzo, who also returned to action after a stiff neck. Smith was called out but the Dodgers challenged and the call was overturned. Max Muncy followed by blasting a 2-and-2 changeup to left for his 18th homer, making it 3-0 and marking the second of six straight hits by the Dodgers in the inning.
Severino said of his stuff when he took the mound: “It was good. Fastball location was bad. That changeup Muncy hit out was a good pitch. That’s a good team, and when you have mistakes like this, they’ll take advantage of that.”
After Betts’ RBI single in his second at-bat of the inning made it 6-0, the Yankees caught a break when Outman, who hit an RBI single earlier in the inning, was picked off third by catcher Jose Trevino for the third out, ending Severino’s 34-pitch inning.
Severino said of his velocity: “The main thing for me was location. If I can throw 95 where I want, I would rather throw 99 where I want, but with 95 I can get through a lineup.”
Aaron Boone said he isn't concerned about Severino's velocity. “No. He pitches in and out mid-90s, upper 90s sometimes, and really the last couple, he’s had that really good life to his heater,'' he said. "Just a tick off tonight. No, I don’t think anything [concerning].”
Given the amount of hard contact, does Severino wonder if he was tipping pitches? “Like I said before, for me the big thing was location if I’m tipping or not,'' he said. "Even if I’m tipping, I need to get better. This is the big leagues. If I was tipping, I would look at it and see. If I’m tipping, that’s my bad and I need to fix it.”
Did Boone think he was tipping pitches? “I thought some mistakes there [over the middle],'' he said. "Obviously, we look into everything, but they jumped on some pitches in the heart of the plate that they didn’t miss.”
The Yankees got one back in the second when Donaldson, playing his first game since April 5 as he was activated from the IL (hamstring) earlier in the day, ripped a 2-and-2 slider to left-center to make it 6-1.
After a 1-2-3, 14-pitch bottom half from Severino, the Dodgers got him again in the third. J.D. Martinez hammered a 1-and-2, 96-mph fastball to center for his 13th homer and eighth in his last 12 games.
Stanton drew the Yankees within 7-2 in the fourth, destroying a 2-and-2 slider to left-center for his fifth home run. Stanton has hit 10 homers in 24 career games at Dodger Stadium, the ballpark the Los Angeles native visited while growing up.
Betts hit his second homer of the game in the sixth and Donaldson hit a 418-foot two-run homer in the ninth.
“Felt nice,'' Donaldson said of his two-homer game. "Felt like I had some pretty quality ABs today. But at the end of the day, we lost the game. That’s what’s most important.”