After being swept in the three game series by the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, the Yankees will play a three-game series starting tonight in Cleveland against the Indians. The eight consecutive wins by the Blue Jays has reduced the Yankees lead in the American League East to only 1.5 games.
The Yankees offense will need to bounce back as they only scored one run in the three losses to the Blue Jays and in their last five games combined they have only scored a total of four runs. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, who are the table setters at the top of the lineup, are only hitting .182 and .129, respectively, in eight August games. That is part of the reason that the team has gone 3-5 in August after going 10-4 between July 17 and July 31.
The pitching was somewhat surprisingly not the issue against Toronto’s high powered offense as the starters only allowed a combined seven runs in the three games. Nathan Evoaldi allowed one run on Friday, Ivan Nova allowed four runs on Saturday and Masahiro Tanaka allowed two solo homers on Sunday. The Yankees need Luis Severino, who will be making his second start tonight, to have the same kind of success that he had in his first start because winning the series in Cleveland is important.
Severino could be even more effective than when he allowed one earned run (two overall) in five innings pitched against the Red Sox last week because he will not be making his MLB debut and he will be facing an office with less firepower. This could lead to him having fewer three ball counts than he did against Boston, which lead to him throwing 94 pitches by the end of the fifth inning.
However, you can’t ask for much better than one earned run, two hits allowed and zero walks in five innings pitched in a major league debut. His fastball was electric (usually about 96mph), his changeup was effective and he used his slider as a strikeout pitch.
“I’m trying to work on certain pitches and trying to not make any mistakes,” Severino said through a translator. “I feel comfortable. I’m trying to keep my change-up low.”
Joe Girardi said that he is hoping for six innings out of Severino tonight. “He’s got a pretty good slider — he’s got a couple different ones — and he’s got a changeup,” Girardi said. What stood out to me was, he was able to make pitches in three-ball counts.
It is important that the Yankees win at least two out of three games in this series because the Blue Jays will be playing the Oakland Athletics, who are in last place just like the Indians. Chase Headley will get the night off after playing in the team’s previous 24 games and Brendan Ryan will get the start at third. Here are the pitching matchups against the Indians, who are 51-59 and in last place in the AL Central.
RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 1.80)
RHP Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.76)
7:10 p.m., YES Network
LHP CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.34)
RHP Danny Salazar (9-6, 3.38)
7:10 p.m., YES Network
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (11-2, 4.15)
7:10 p.m., WPIX and MLB Network