Luis Severino was on point tonight, which the Yankees certainly needed in a game where they faced one of the Mariners’ star pitchers, their former ace who still has his own fan club in the left field corner of Safeco Field. Severino threw 100 pitches in his 7 scoreless innings, gave up 8 hits and a walk, and struck out 6 batters.
Now, he’s always been a starter with quick a bit of power, but he actually threw the fastest pitch by a starter this season — a 101.2 mph fastball. With the bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th, and a 1-2 count, Severino cranked it up a notch trying to get an out and threw that speedy pitch, but the batter fouled it off to stay in the game. He eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice on the 8th pitch of the at-bat.
Anyway, the Yankees’ offense had some trouble hitting off the Mariners’ starter for most of the game. That is until Brett Gardner hit a solid 1-out solo home run in the 6th inning to get the Yankees on the board and in the lead.
Once the Mariners turned to their bullpen, the Yankees found more opportunities. Headley hit a 1-out single in the 8th and moved to 2nd when Gardner made it safely on base thanks to a fielding error. A new pitcher then walked Sanchez to load the bases. Aaron Judge then singled to score Headley before a double play ended the threat that inning.
And in the 9th, the Mariners sent in a new reliever, and the Yankees still put 2 runners on base with singles and 2 outs. And then Chase Headley hit a short grounder into shallow right field, but then the Mariners’ 2nd baseman totally missed the throw to the 1st baseman. Headley moved on to 2nd as the players scurried to get the ball, and that allowed both runners to double the Yankees’ score. This means that the only run the Yankees actually earned tonight was Gardner’s homer.
Meanwhile, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances for the 8th inning, who was able to escape his own self-inflicted jam with a great strikeout, before turning things over to Aroldis Chapman for the 9th. Chapman, unfortunately, had a bit of trouble, giving up a lead-off walk. That runner moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then to 3rd on a second strikeout. He then scored on an RBI double to get the Mariners on the board. But a fly out ended the inning, the threat, and the game.
Final score: 4-1 Yankees
Okay, it looks like there’s an answer to the giant question about having 2 veteran 3rd basemen on the roster. Shortly after news broke about the recent trade, Chase Headley spoke to Girardi and told him that he would be willing to do whatever necessary for the good of the team. So Girardi came back and asked Headley to play 1st, so that Todd Frazier could play 3rd. This means that the rookie Cooper would platoon Headley at 1st, and utility wunderkind Torreyes can fill in at 3rd.
Also, it certainly says a lot to me about Headley. Now, he could have pulled rank and insisted on not moving from the spot he’s played for most of his career, the position he’s known for, insisting the “new guy” play the other spot. But no, Headley put the good of the team above whatever sentiments he may have for the position. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to flip that around to see if that could work. However, the most important part was the character of the players willing to put the name on the front of their jersey first over the number on their back.
And speaking of which, while Todd Frazier grew up a Yankees fan, idolizing #21 Paul O’Neill, Frazier was assigned #29, despite having worn #21 with his former teams. While there was some chatter initially about petitioning O’Neill for permission for Frazier to wear his beloved #21, Frazier said earlier today that he’s totally fine with #29 and wouldn’t be asking for a change. O’Neill hasn’t commented on the issue and #21 isn’t actually retired, but it isn’t in circulation due to O’Neill popularity with the fans. If anyone could have brought back the #21 with justice, it would be Frazier, but I rather admire the fact that he’s sticking with something new.
A new chapter, a new number, a new position… sounds like a new turn of events for the Yankees this season. And if that breaks up whatever slump they’ve been in recently, I’m really okay with that too.