Luis Severino, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino passed the test. With the Yankees dominating Severino through their first Test of the season on Thursday night, Trevino and Kiner-Falefa provided most of the offense as the Bombers defeated the Blue Jays 4-0 at the stadium in the series finale.
The Yankees split a four-game series and left the Bronx with no idea who they were as a team. They went 4-3 at home against the Red Sox and Blue Jays at home stands, two teams they would surely be battling for a playoff spot this year.
“I think we have a chance to be a really good team. I think we played a really good division where it’s going to be super competitive all summer long all season long,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. Said what he knows about his team. “We’ve jumped in here with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. We have encountered many good weapons. We’ve obviously faced a good lineup and it’s going to be a fun, tough season. Early signs say we are ready to tackle this and my expectations are very high.
He got two very encouraging starts from Luis Severino. On Thursday night, the former Yankees ace showed he is a much more complete pitcher than he was before, starting a three-year journey through injuries. He kept the dangerous Blue Jays lineup scoreless in five innings. He scattered two hits and two walks. He hit a six—including hitting Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. three times (a first for the young Blue Jays slugger). Severino, who had played 27.2 innings in the last three years due to injuries, saw his fastball hit 100 mph and used a very effective mix of pitches to get 15 swings and misses, including his changeup. He had six on his cutter and five on his cutter.
They saw the bottom half of their lineup show signs of life. After making his Yankee debut 1-for-17, Isiah Kiner-Falefa started with two hits and scored two runs. He was moderated by Jose Trevino, who was his teammate with Texas before dealing with the Yankees on both plays. Trevino singles, doubles, steals a base and has two RBIs.
“I think it’s close. His best contact against anyone has been that hard ground ball. So just get those guys up a little bit, turn them into line drives and he should be able to take off,” Boone said Thursday night. Said about Kinner-Falefa before the game. “He’ll settle in here and have the quality of the contact guy that we know and like some of these guys. I feel like he’s on the verge.”
Boone had brushed off woes at the bottom of his lineup, including catcher Kyle Higashioka, who was out on Thursday night. Higashioka, who led the Yankees at home this spring, is 1-for-18 with no extra-base hits.
“We have to go to those guys. I’m not worried about them over the long haul. But it’s somewhere we start getting a little bit of production out there,” Boone said. “Higgy will be fine. He had quality contact so there are a lot of tough balls on the ground guys. So convert some of those to line drives and we’ll get that rolling. He’s about to hit the bottom for power. it’s gonna happen.”
Aaron Judge doubled to take the lead in eighth place and scored on a fielder’s pick, further calming the heart of the Yankees lineup once again.
“I think aggressively we are very close. I think a lot of our players are in pretty good shape in terms of the quality of the bat, how they are hitting the ball. I think sometimes we have some Tough luck has hit. I thought we hit several balls well last night,” Boone said. For the part, generated very weak contact. I feel like we didn’t get that big hit in the third game against the Red Sox, although I felt like we had some players with the bat and the conditions.
And on Thursday night, Aroldis Chapman melted away, running with three straight batsmen to clean up the mess before Michael King came on, making his first major league save.