Luis Severino, Greg Bird help Yankees keep pace in AL East

091615_severino_swings_med_resLuis Severino bounced back from the roughest outing of his brief Major League career, Greg Bird homered and drove in two runs and the Yankees defeated the Rays, 3-1, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees took two of three games from the Rays in the series, remaining three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East chase. The 21-year-old Severino limited Tampa Bay to a run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven.

“It’s been great. We want to win,” said Severino, who had allowed a career-high six runs to the Blue Jays in his last start. “We want to help the team win every time we go out there and have a good outing for the team.” MORE

Clubhouse report

— The Yankees planned on having Greg Bird appear in some September games, but they never imagined he would be playing a role of this magnitude. Mark Teixeira’s season-ending injury has created an opportunity for the 22-year-old Bird, who hit a tape-measure ninth-inning homer off Andrew Bellati that struck the ‘D’ ring at the Trop — the first ball to do so this season.

“He’s done a really nice job in Mark’s absence,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. 

— The bullpen worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings behind Severino, but Dellin Betances did his best to make it interesting. With two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, the All-Star loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. That brought up James Loney, who had hits in each of his first three at-bats, but Betances recovered to strike out the first baseman and end the inning. 

“I felt like I was rushing, so my breaking ball was breaking too much and not over the plate,” Betances said. “It was more side to side. The fastball as well; just one of those things. I’ve got to slow myself down, try to stay back. The good thing is that we won.”

— Jacoby Ellsbury still wasn’t sure exactly what happened on that sixth-inning Steven Souza Jr. drive that fooled him in center field. He guessed that it might have clipped a catwalk, but a crew chief review ruled the call on the field – RBI double – to stand because the video was inconclusive. If it had been shown to clip a catwalk, it would’ve been a two-run homer for Souza Jr.

“I was hoping I was going to be able to pick it up at the last second and be able to catch the ball,” Ellsbury said. “I guess I was just glad it wasn’t a home run.”

— Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11) said that he was disappointed by the Yankees’ decision to place him in the bullpen, but he understood the reasoning.

“It’s not what I want, I don’t want to be in the bullpen, but you’ve got to be honest with yourself,” Nova said. “I’m not pitching the way I’m supposed to be pitching. We’re in a tight race. We want to win the division. If that’s the best choice, then I’m going to go to the bullpen.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race. Toronto defeated the Braves, 9-1, at Turner Field. The Yankees now lead the Astros by 3 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

Severino has made five starts of five-plus innings and one run or fewer, joining Tiny Bonham (1940) as the only Yankees to have five such starts within their first eight career games, according to available data.

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Parting words

“It’s been a lot of fun to watch. Severino was electric tonight. His stuff, his breaking balls, he just keeps hitters off balance. 98 on the radar gun, Can’t say enough about him, his poise. And Bird, the same way. Big at-bats each and every time. Big home runs the last two nights, playing a very good first base, he’s really been impressive.” — Ellsbury

1 Comment

Great to see the kids contribute. Now replace Ryan with Refsnyder and I’ll be happy!

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