MINNEAPOLIS — When the American League wild-card playoff is held in three weeks, nearly definitely in Oakland or at Yankee Stadium, Aaron Boone could have a choice on his plate that the rookie supervisor by no means anticipated to should make.
Who will likely be his beginning pitcher?
He might flip to the dependable J.A. Happ, or the spirited Masahiro Tanaka.
However the pitcher whose fingers Boone would most dearly love to position his group’s destiny in is Luis Severino. That was clear in Boone’s plaintive voice on Wednesday earlier than he despatched Severino to the mound in opposition to the Minnesota Twins.
“The actual fact is,” Boone stated, “when Sevy’s proper, he can match up with anybody within the sport. When he’s going properly, he can go toe to toe with them. To have that weapon obtainable come October is large, and hopefully tonight is the beginning of him actually, actually constructing some momentum.”
It was the third time in two questions on Severino that Boone used the phrase “hopefully.”
The way in which Severino has pitched over the past two months — a 6.83 E.R.A. and 13 residence runs allowed in his earlier 11 begins getting into Wednesday — has left the Yankees with little to do however hope their two-time All-Star pitcher will get straightened out.
They’ve given him additional relaxation, supplied loads of encouragement and, within the days since his final begin — a two-and-two-thirds inning implosion at Oakland — ensured that he and catcher Gary Sanchez would now not get their indicators crossed.
However in an indication of how the Yankees’ fortunes have turned, on an evening when Severino took child steps in the correct path he was practically overshadowed by the indignity of his group’s being no-hit. Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi saved the Yankees hitless for seven and one-third innings in a Three-1 victory.
The loss dropped the Yankees, who’ve 16 video games remaining, to 10 video games behind the Boston Pink Sox within the American League East and diminished their lead over the Oakland Athletics within the wild-card race to at least one recreation.
It additionally marked a dispiriting finish to a Four-5 journey during which they proceed to look much less and fewer like group with critical World Collection aspirations. It was additionally the third time in lower than two weeks that a pitcher carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in opposition to the Yankees.
“Baseball will punch you within the mouth every so often,” Boone stated. “We’re clearly dealing with a little bit little bit of adversity proper now and we’ll embrace it and we’ll be higher for it.”
The Yankees know Odorizzi properly from his days in Tampa Bay: In 2016, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in opposition to them solely to lose 2-1 on a house run by Starlin Castro — the Yankees’ solely hit.
On Wednesday, Odorizzi walked three batters, struck out 5 and made an excellent defensive play — sliding to his knees to assemble a fifth-inning dribbler to the left of the mound by Didi Gregorius and firing a strike to first in time to retire him.
The Yankees had numerous hard-hit balls — Aaron Hicks clubbed a drive to middle that absolutely would have carried out of Yankee Stadium, left fielder Robbie Grossman made a sliding catch on Luke Voit’s liner, and Miguel Andujar’s liner to middle hung up lengthy sufficient for outfielder Jake Cave to snare it. However none fell till Greg Chook’s one-out double into the left-center hole within the eighth.
“I knew he can be swinging early, so I simply wished to get him to hit it off the top,” stated Odorizzi, who threw Chook a uncommon two-seam fastball. “He received sufficient of it to place it on the market — stayed true, didn’t slice, put it within the excellent spot. If I threw him a four-seamer, he in all probability places it within the seats.”
The hit introduced residence Voit, who had walked with one out. It was the 120th and closing pitch thrown by Odorizzi, who acquired a standing ovation on his approach again to the dugout and acknowledged the gang with a tip of his cap and a broad wave.
Odorizzi’s exit was a marked distinction to Severino’s departure within the sixth. When Boone strode to the mound to carry Severino, with the Twins having taken a 1-Zero lead on three crisp hits, the pitcher didn’t seem happy, having just a few phrases with the supervisor earlier than making the stroll again to the dugout.
“I requested him to let me get one batter and he stated that was it,” Severino stated.
Severino, who had thrown simply 83 pitches, was requested if he had hoped to sway Boone.
“Perhaps,” Severino stated. “Generally you discuss along with your supervisor and also you let him know that you simply’ve received confidence to get out that batter and you alter his thoughts.”
Boone stated he didn’t thoughts Severino’s pleadings.
“He’s within the combat proper now, and I respect the hell out of that,” Boone stated. “He desires the ball and he desires to get out of that state of affairs; simply the best way we’re lined up I felt prefer it was the correct transfer on the time.”
Nonetheless, even with the group’s finest relievers rested and a time off on Thursday, it appears exhausting to think about that the Severino that had a 1.98 E.R.A. on July 1 wouldn’t have been given extra latitude.
Nonetheless, there have been clear indicators of enchancment for Severino on Wednesday. He labored shortly and effectively, permitting only one hit earlier than the sixth inning.
However he was not dominant as he had been earlier within the season — with performances like a complete-game, 10-strikeout shutout of the Houston Astros or a shutout of the Pink Sox on two hits over six and two-thirds innings.
Severino struck out 5 on Wednesday, and didn’t stroll a batter in 5 and two-thirds innings. The one run he allowed got here when Max Kepler despatched a one-out single by means of the vacated left facet of the infield after which Ehire Adrianza hit a run-scoring double into the right-field nook within the sixth inning. Joe Mauer adopted with a crisp single, however Adrianza was held at third.
After Jorge Polanco struck out when he couldn’t verify his swing on a fastball that sailed to the backstop — permitting Mauer to advance to second, however holding Adrianza at third — Boone turned to David Robertson, who retired Eddie Rosario on a comebacker however gave up two runs within the seventh.
Although few of the Twins had seen a lot of Severino — in his earlier two begins, together with in final 12 months’s wild-card playoff, he lasted simply three and one-third innings — he acquired some belated encouragement from throughout the best way.
“He’s going to be completely advantageous shifting ahead,” stated Odorizzi, noting that Severino’s slider was extra erratic than it had been. “He’s not that far off. He simply wants one recreation for him to click on together with his off-speed pitches, as a result of his fastball is at all times going to be there.”
Or so the Yankees hope.