|Luis Severino on the mound for the Yankees against Baltimore's Cedric Mullins. Photo by Jason Schott.
The Yankees entered Tuesday night's series opener with the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium with the second-best record in the American League and the reason is due to the other-worldly performance of their starting pitchers.
In the series against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend, their three starters put on an incredible display, especially Gerrit Cole on Sunday. The Yankees ace, who had an uneven start to the season, went 6 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits and a walk,with nine strikeouts to earn his first win of the season as the Yankees rolled to a 10-2 win.
Jameson Taillon opened the series with Cleveland on Friday with a superb outing, as he went five innings, and allowed one run while scattering seven hits and no walks (he has allowed just one walk in 145.2 innings pitched) in the 4-1 Yankees win. Nestor Cortez, the secret weapon from the left side, followed on Saturday with a solid performance, as he went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit, two runs, two walks, and notched eight strikeouts in the 5-4 Yankees walk-off win.
Before that, in Detroit on Wednesday, to start the turn around the rotation, Luis Severino allowed one run on seven hits and two walks, with three strikeouts, in five innings, in a game the Yankees won late, 5-3. Jordan Montgomery pitched the series finale in Detroit on Thursday afternoon, and he allowed just one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out five, in six innings, in a game the Yankees lost to the Tigers, 3-0.
The earned run averages are the best measure to gauge their performance so early in the season, and they are as follows (through Sunday): Cortes - 1.15; Severino - 2.08; Montgomery - 2.51; Taillon, 2.50; Cole - 4.00
Severino is coming back from essentially two years on the shelf due to injuries, with his only action late last season coming in relief. He has reclaimed his ace form pretty rapidly, as he has a record of 1-0 with 13.0 innings pitched, notched 14 strikeuts, and allowed three runs (all earned) 14 hits and 4 walks.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked if Severino has been helped by how strong all the pitchers in the rotation have been, and if he could sense a competition among them, and he said, "Yeah, I think there's something to that, no question, and I always think when that manifests itself on a team, whether that's with position players, competition amongst each other, certainly a pitching staff from a starting standpoint, and in a relief standpoint, you know it's like, next guy up with the ball, it's like, 'I gotta get it to the next guy in good shape' and I think our guys take a lot of pride in that, and I am seeing that, I feel like, build in a really good way."
Severino's signature outing so far was on Thursday, April 14 against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks, while striking out six, in a 3-0 Yankees win.
That night, Severino showed a ton of emotion, punctuated by fist pumps after strikeouts, as he dominated arguably the strongest lineup in baseball. Boone said of how valuable Severino's passion on the mound is, "I think it's been great because, I think it's been tough for a starting pitcher to pitch with that kind of emotion all the time, but I think there's periods where it's good to let it out, and that's kind of been consistent with who Sevy's been, not only this year, but throughout his career. You know, he has that big moment in the game where he makes a pitch and gets out of an inning or something, that's kind of his signature release.
"I think he's just done a really good job here early in the season, you know, and obviously missing the bulk of a couple of seasons and to come out of gate so much in control, while also flashing his really good stuff, I just feel like he's done a really good job kind of navigating that. It's been fun to see him go out and do it, and really, I think his delivery's been really consistent, and it allowed him to pitch consistently so far."
Severino took the hill Tuesday night against the Orioles, and he threw a solid six innings, and flirted with perfection, in a 12-8 Yankees win. Anthony Rizzo had three home runs and 6 RBI to power the Yankee offense.
The Yankees gave Severino plenty of fun support via the long ball, as Rizzo’s first homer came in the third, a three-run shot to right field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and Joey Gallo hit a solo shot in the fourth.
Rizzo was at it again in the fifth, as he launched a two-run homer to nearly the same spot in right to make it 6-0 Yankees.
Through it all, the right-hander retired the first 14 Orioles he faced before allowing a walk to Austin Hays with two out in the fifth. Ramon Urias was up next, and hit a liner that looked sure to be Baltimore’s first hit, but it was snared by Yankees second baseman D.J. LaMahieu.
Severino retired Robinson Chirinos on a pop-up, then alllowed a single to Jorge Mateo to break up the no-hitter, which drew a polite cheer from the crowd.
Cedric Mullins followed with a walk, and then Anthony Santander launched a three-run homer to left and draw Baltimore within 6-3.
Roughned Odor led off the seventh with a double, and he would be the last batter Severino faced.
Odor came into score and he came into score on a single by Ramon Urias off Yankee reliever Clay Holmes that made it 6-4.
The Yankees got all four runs back in the bottom of the seventh when Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI single, and Gleyber Torres followed with a three-run triple to make it 10-4.
After Baltimore put up four in the top of eighth, Aaron Judge, the birthday boy, hit a solo shot, Rizzo got one of his own, his third of the night, and league-leading eighth homer of the year, to make it 12-8.