NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Severino pitched four dominant innings and reached 98.8 mph in his injury-delayed season debut for the Yankees, an 8-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night that moved New York to the brink of clinching its 21st postseason appearance in 25 years.
A two-time All-Star and the ace of the Yankees staff, Severino got hurt while warming up before his first scheduled spring training appearance on March 5.
He began tentatively in game 152, opening with a 12-pitch walk to Brian Goodwin, but got sharper and allowed just a pair of singles. Severino walked two and struck out four, throwing 47 of 67 pitches for strikes and leaving to an ovation from fans tracking his pitch count. He had seven swings and misses on fastballs and two on sliders.
Severino’s return gives the Yankees a plethora of postseason rotation choices from a group that includes James Paxton (14-6), Masahiro Tanaka (10-8), Domingo Germán (18-4), CC Sabathia (5-8) and J.A. Happ (12-8).
Severino was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts last year but struggled late in the season. The Yankees at first this year diagnosed Severino with shoulder inflammation, but when the 25-year-old right-hander failed to improve he was sent for an MRI on April 9 that revealed a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. He didn’t throw off a mound again until a bullpen session on Aug. 9 and made three minor league injury rehabilitation appearances from Sept. 1-11.
New York lowered its magic number to one over Cleveland to clinch the Yankees’ 55th postseason appearance — 22 more than any other team. New York’s magic number dropped to two over Tampa Bay to wrap up the Yankees’ 19th AL East title, their first since 2012.
And at 99-53, the Yankees are on the verge of their 21st 100-win season, their first in back-to-back years since 2002-04.
Severino’s return follows the season debut on Sunday of reliever Dellin Betances, also sidelined since spring training by a lat injury, and left-hander Jordan Montgomery, out since May 2018 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, limited to nine games this season, is due back Wednesday or Thursday after recovering from a knee injury.
Gleyber Torres hit his 38th homer, a three-run drive that capped a six-run fourth inning against José Suarez. One pitch earlier, Didi Gregorius doubled in two runs.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the second off Noé Ramirez (5-4) on Gio Urshela’s RBI single and Cameron Maybin’s run-scoring double.
Jonathan Loiasiga (2-1) followed Severino with two hitless innings as part of a six-hitter against the Angels, already assured of a losing record at 68-83.
Angels: INF Luis Rengifo left in the seventh after hurting his left hand on a swing and miss against Stephen Tarpley. … INF Tommy La Stella, who hasn’t played since fracturing his right tibia with a foul ball on July 2, made the trip. La Stella, who is from Westwood, New Jersey, still is feeling discomfort.
Yankees: Stanton has been sidelined since straining the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on June 25. … Maybin appeared to be shaking his left wrist in the late innings; the wrist has bothered him since August. … DH-1B Edwin Encarnación (strained left oblique) will not swing a bat this week. … C Gary Sánchez (strained left groin) remains in the treatment phase of his recovery. … Happ had a cortisone shot Friday to treat biceps tendinitis in his pitching arm and anticipates making his scheduled start Thursday.
Sabathia makes his final regular-season start at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, and Germán could follow in his second straight relief appearance as New York limits his innings. Left-hander Dillon Peters (3-3) starts for the Angels.