Yankees’ Severino shuts down Rays
NEW YORK — Starlin Castro saw nine pitches from Matt Andriese, fouled off three and then blasted the 10th pitch well over the left-center field fence.
He rounded the bases and encountered not only a series of high-fives in the dugout but a couple of inquiring teammates wanting to know details of the home run.
Castro sparked a four-run sixth inning with a long homer and Luis Severino pitched six effective innings as the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Wednesday night.
Castro hit his second homer in as many days and 16th overall when he blasted a full count changeup over Tampa Bay’s bullpen beyond the left-center field fence and off an advertisement.
When Castro reached the end of the dugout, he encountered shortstop Didi Gregorius holding a paper cup as a “microphone” and infielder Ronald Torreyes holding up basket of sunflower seeds to serve as the “camera” so the second baseman could talk about the homer like he would to the media after the game.
“It came from Torreyes, Didi and I,” Castro said. “We plan it, like right when I hit a homer. That started yesterday. When I hit a homer yesterday, they started doing an interview, you know, and Toe had the bucket of seeds and then Didi and Sevy asked me the questions.”
Castro’s home run was one of three by the Yankees, who lead the majors with 235 home runs, the fifth-highest total in team history.
Greg Bird followed with a solo homer off left-hander Xavier Cedeno and Aaron Hicks slugged a two-run homer off Cedeno, resulting in another fun interview for the Yankees in the dugout.
“We have, like, sometimes like a bottle of water,” Castro said. “We have, the hand part of it we have in the dugout so we ask them how they feel after they hit a homer, what pitch you hit, and we enjoy that.”
Also, enjoyable for the Yankees was Severino (14-6) allowing one run and four hits in his final start before likely starting next week’s wild-card game. He struck out nine, tying teammate CC Sabathia for the third-most strikeouts in a season in team history with 230.
The right-hander improved to 9-2 since the All-Star break. This was the 10th time in 14 starts since the break that Severino allowed one earned run or less.
For the season, Severino had given up one earned run or less 17 times, the most by a Yankee since Ron Guidry did it 21 times during his 25-3 season in 1978.
“I had a lot of fun,” Severino said. “We’re having fun and the team is hitting good. The pitching staff has come together, and the relievers too.”
Another enjoyable aspect of New York’s 11th win in 12 home games and 19th in 26 overall was Aaron Judge, raising his RBI total to 111 with a two-run double in the fifth.
About the only frustrating thing for the Yankees was the right-center field scoreboard that showed the Toronto Blue Jays blowing a three-run lead and losing 10-7 to the Boston Red Sox. That left New York (89-69) three games out with four games remaining.
While the good times continued to roll for the Yankees, the Rays continued their late-season struggles. Tampa Bay (76-82) clinched its fourth straight losing season and lost for the 12th time in 18 games.
Adeiny Hechavarria’s seventh homer of the season accounted for Tampa Bay’s lone run as it became the latest team to get quieted by Severino.
“Offensively, Severino’s done that quite a bit to a lot of teams and he did it to us tonight,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “He just really quieted our bats. Other than Hech, there wasn’t a lot going on.”
Andriese (5-5) allowed three runs and three hits in five-plus innings.
He took a 1-0 lead after Hechavarria homered in the fifth but issued a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and an infield single to Hicks before Aaron Judge lined a two-run double down the left field line.
“If I were the make a pitch to Judge there, one out (I) get a ground ball, we wouldn’t be talking about a leadoff walk,” Andriese said.
NOTES: Yankees RF Aaron Judge made his ninth start of the season as the designated hitter. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Judge would likely get one of the four remaining games off. ... Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he could clearly hear the fan yelling out the location of C Wilson Ramos’ glove during the eighth inning Tuesday on two pitches to C Gary Sanchez. “He was accurate,” Cash said. “We heard it clear as day.” ... Yankees 2B Starlin Castro homered in consecutive games for the third time this season. ... Tampa Bay LF Corey Dickerson saw his bat go flying into the last row of a field level section near the Yankee dugout in the second inning.