Yankees Postgame Notebook: Bats, bullpen back Sevy to complete Seattle sweep
NEW YORK -- Sometimes winning is ugly, and sometimes, you have to expect the unexpected in baseball. Those are two thoughts that permeated the three-game set between the Yankees and Mariners, but all's well that ends wall after the Bombers took a sweep-completing 4-3 win Thursday afternoon.
"Huge, and it capped off what turned into a really good homestand," said manager Aaron Boone of the win, which made the Yankees 7-2 on the homestand. "They made Sevy work really hard, but we made a big first inning stand up there. That's a good team we beat, and I'm just happy to finish off a good homestand and get on that plane (to Tampa) on a good note.
The final game was expected to be a pitchers' duel between Luis Severino and Seattle's James Paxton, but before there was even an out recorded in the second inning, a trio of two-run homers -- blasts by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar in the first, and a rebuttal by Kyle Seager in the second -- saw that pitchers' duel quickly become a 4-2 game.
"Every time they give me the ball, I want to have a good game, but today wasn't the best," Severino said. "I wasn't really feeling comfortable, and I was missing pitches and getting deep in counts, but we have a great team that backed me up."
As you might then expect, it ended up being a day where both pitchers had to grind, both lasted less than six innings and both ended up in later trouble. Paxton wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out Romine, while Severino made it through 5 2/3 frames before a two-out RBI single by ex-Yankee Ben Gamel chased the ace and cut Seattle's deficit to one.
"I thought Sevy struggled a little bit overall with his command, but credit to Seattle, they threw a lot of good at-bats on him," Boone said. "We were hoping he could finish off that sixth, but they hit some balls soft off him. He just didn't have his normal command overall, and still, he's a pitch away from getting through six with two runs. You kind expect him to dominate time and time again, but even when he has a bump in the road, it's still good enough to get us through the middle innings."
"Sevy's special; he's not a machine, but sometimes he can just not have it and get you through six," catcher Austin Romine added. "It was a battle for him but even when he's grinding, he gets it done."
One thing the Yankees can usually expect is a strong performance from the bullpen, and in that regard at least, they got the expected there. David Robertson escaped the sixth and then worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh, Dellin Betances got out of the eighth thanks in part to a caught stealing and, in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman stranded a runner on second by striking out Dee Gordon to end the game.
"They've been terrific, and again, they kind of protect each other, because guys keep stepping up," Boone said of his relief corps. "Even though we're in a tough stretch of games, different guys stepping up means we were in pretty good shape to roll it out (Thursday). We're built in a lot of ways around that great bullpen, and they continue to deliver."
"We just try to keep the line moving and get the ball to the next guy in line," Robertson added. "For me, it's getting the ball to Dellin and Chapman, who are locked in right now and throwing a ton of strikes."
The win gives the Yankees 50 on the year and a 16-7 record against teams that would be in the postseason if it started Friday, but in a final "as you might expect," all that means right now to the skipper is that the team is doing its job.
"We've obviously played well and racked up a lot of wins, but you also realize every night just how precious those wins are, and how hard they are to come by no matter who you're playing," Boone said. "Yeah, It is gratifying to know we've played pretty well against some of the elite teams, and some of the hot teams, but I think it just speaks to what we believe our team is capable of, and the confidence these guys have no matter who the opponent is."
To cap off a seven-win homestand, here are seven quotes from the homestand finale:
-Severino explains how he was able to get through Thursday's outing while feeling uncomfortable on the mound: "I felt great in the bullpen, but I just wasn't feeling like myself out on the mound. You have to know you're going to have outings like that, so I was trying to figure things out in my warmups."
-Clint Frazier went 2-for-4 as the leadoff man, and Boone acknowledged there is a chance he could be here to stay: "I think there's an avenue for that; I think we're kind of day-by-day based on our needs, but he's taken advantage of opportunities, and again, he's earned his way up here with the work he's putting in. Since the first time we called him up, he's another young player who has represented well when that opportunity has knocked."
-Giancarlo Stanton almost made it three homers in the first for the Yankees, but his blast to center field was hauled in by a leaping catch from Mitch Haniger that robbed him of a solo shot into the Monument Park netting. Here's the skipper on that moment: "That was a great play. Haniger flipping over to center today, he made it look pretty easy. He got to the wall really efficiently…kind of a bummer for G, but tip your cap to Haniger; he made a great play, real fluid."
-Betances has now pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings, racking up 22 strikeouts in that run: "I feel really good right now. Physically you might feel different every time out there, but my mindset is there and my stuff is good, so I just have to try to do my job and get the ball off to Chapman. I've put in a lot of work to get to this point, but I have to keep putting the work in and trust my stuff."
-Robertson had a bit higher praise for Betances: "I don't know if I've ever seen Dellin this good. I just think he's throwing his fastball where he wants to for strikes, and his breaking ball is really good; hitters don't see it real well, and when you get behind in the count on him, it's real tough."
-Although they've been in opposing dugouts several times, Thursday was the first time where brothers Austin and Andrew Romine actually started against each other in the same game. The brothers were seen playfully chatting before Andrew's first at-bat, and here's Austin on that moment: "We've been on opposite sides watching each other, but this was the first time it all lined up, and it's a cool moment we'll always remember. We still have jobs to do, and we both understand that, but you can take a moment to acknowledge the situation."
-We'll give the last word to Robertson, who was asked if the 50-win Yankees have maybe exceeded expectations, and gave exactly the answer you'd expect from anyone in the clubhouse: "Just because we have 50 wins, that doesn't mean anything, because we still have 90 games left. Hopefully, we'll just keep winning games and series, and end up where we need to be, which is at the top of our division."