Anthony Rizzo #48 of the New York Yankees walks back...

Anthony Rizzo #48 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after hitting into a game ending double play against the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, June 8, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Yankees put on a clinic in How To Lose Without Aaron Judge by dropping Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader to the sub.-500 White Sox.

-- Inadequate starting pitching.

-- Vulnerable bullpen.

-- The biggest bats coming up small.

We don’t see those three factors conspire on the same night very often to doom the Yankees, but that was the lethal formula in the 6-5 opening loss, with Luis Severino getting rocked (3 HRs) for a second consecutive start. And what it took to salvage Game 2 was hardly the conventional route, as two players fresh from Triple-A Scranton — starter Randy Vasquez and Judge replacement Billy McKinney — played prominent roles in delivering the 3-0 victory over the White Sox.

Vasquez pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, retiring 15 straight at one point, and McKinney — who tripled in Game 1 — smacked a solo homer in the fifth. Gleyber Torres was the only pinstriped regular who chipped in during the doubleheader, smacking a two-run blast in the fourth inning. The Yankees obviously won’t survive relying on backups and Scranton stars in Judge’s prolonged absence, so they better hope the rest — like Anthony Rizzo (1-for-23) and DJ LeMahieu (.235) — wake up soon. They’re not paid to have someone like McKinney do all the heavy lifting.

“It’s unfortunate that Aaron’s hurt, obviously,” McKinney said. “At the time, I really didn’t know it was that significant of an injury.”

Said manager Aaron Boone, “Opportunity knocks.”

And since everybody is left to speculate on the length of Judge’s absence due to a sprain of his big toe — could be a month, could be double that — some of the more troubling trends from Thursday’s split are ones that Boone & Co. can’t afford to continue.

 Judge, who spoke Thursday afternoon, didn’t provide much reason for optimism as he declined to provide an estimate for a return date. Those searching for any sliver of positivity took note that Judge was wearing Nikes rather than an orthopedic boot to shelter his banged-up toe, but that was it for the silver linings department.

“No timetable really,” Judge said. “Which I think is best because there’s a couple things going on in there ... Once it starts feeling better, then we can start progressing to doing some walking around and baseball stuff. I think we’re just kind of waiting on a lot of the inflammation and swelling to go down.”

Judge was still sore from having the platelet-rich plasma injection, which is basically a giant needle stuck into the toe to help the healing process. Watching the Yankees was a similarly painful experience in Game 1, from Severino throwing BP to Michael King uncharacteristically blowing up the Yankees’ 5-4 lead in the seventh inning.

Sandwiched in-between was their four most dangerous hitters, the ones meant to pick up the slack during Judge’s IL stint, basically disappearing in Game 1. Torres, Rizzo, LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton went a combined 0-for-15 with three Ks — the game ending with the go-ahead runs on base and Rizzo bouncing into a double play.

On the bright side, there was McKinney along with Willie Calhoun (homer, 3 RBIs) and Kyle Higashioka (RBI-double). But the Yankees can’t keep leaning on those types, especially if the pitching staff isn’t going to hold up its end.

“Usually we’re going to make five runs stand up,” Boone said after Game 1.

The manager isn’t wrong about that. Before Thursday, the Yankees were 22-5 when scoring five or more runs this season. But that’s going to be tougher to do when this ineffective version of Severino is on the mound as the White Sox hammered away at him over five innings, much like the Dodgers did in his previous start at Chavez Ravine.

Severino was supposed to be part of the solution when he returned last month from a spring-training lat muscle strain. But it’s been the opposite his last two starts, and Severino’s fastball — his signature pitch — has been the problem. Not only was the velocity of his four-seamer down a tick to 95.6 mph (from a 96.6 season average) but Severino was finding way too many barrels.

He got 18 swings on that pitch, but only one miss, an unnerving stat for him. And three of those swings wound up depositing the ball over the fence. Afterward, Severino didn’t have any answers for surrendering 11 runs and six homers over his last nine innings. Other than to acknowledge something is most definitely wrong with that four-seamer, without being more specific.

“I’m not 100% sure what’s going on,” Severino said. “The bottom line is that I need to fix it. It’s unacceptable. I can’t go out there and give up three homers every time I get the ball.”

That’s not going to work, particularly with the news this week that Nestor Cortes is sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder strain (he won’t throw at all for the next two weeks). Fortunately for the Yankees, Vasquez and McKinney stepped up in Game 2. But they’re going to need help from more familiar faces. And the reigning MVP won’t be bailing them out anytime soon

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months