Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Boston was a tougher matchup for Luis Severino than Oakland
The Yankees chose Severino to start the wild card game over J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka in part because his specific stuff played best against the Oakland lineup. As strong an offense as the A's had this year, they were the worst team in baseball in wOBA (weighted on-base average, a metric valued by many front offices) against fastballs 97 mph and above.
The Red Sox were 10th in MLB in that metric, far more suited to handle Severino's heat. And handle it they did, from the first pitch. Mookie Betts opened the game by driving a Severino fastball approximately 400 feet to dead-center. Brett Gardner caught it, but it was far enough to spook Severino and the Yanks.
"Boston obviously had a plan to be aggressive and attack first pitch," said one Yankee official during the game.
Severino made it through the inning without allowing a run, but he threw 15 pitches without one swing-and-miss. Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts also made loud outs.
By the third inning,it was clear that Severino was scaring no one. When Lance Lynn started throwing in the bullpen with two outs in the frame and the Yankees trailing 3-0, you wondered what took so long. And that was before the disastrous fourth.
Aaron Boone's very late hook
In the wild card game, Boone got away with a blunder, sending a spent Severino out to pitch the fifth inning. He allowed the first two runners to reach, but Dellin Betances bailed out his manager that time.
On Monday, Boone was not so lucky. Following the aforementioned third inning, the skipper sent Severino out to begin the fourth. His logic was understandable, as he tried to get Severino through the bottom third of the Boston order before replacing him when it turned over.
But seven-hole hitter Brock Holt singled. Boone stuck with Severino. Eight-hole hitter Christian Vazquez singled. Boone stuck with Severino. Nine-hole hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. walked. Finally, Boone came for Severino, with the bases loaded and no outs. Boston went on to score seven runs in the frame.
Boone later articulated his plan, which was exactly what we expected. He was trying to save Lynn for the righties at the top of the order. But once it became clear that Severino didn't have it -- and really, that had been clear since the first inning -- the manager should have deviated from his original plan.
Severino began throwing in the bullpen at 7:32 -- eight minutes before the first pitch. As Ron Darling noted on the TBS broadcast, that is late for a starting pitcher, by about ten minutes.
After the game, Boone, Severino and pitching coach Larry Rothschild all said that Severino did in fact have enough time to warm up and complete his pregame routine.
Betts' great baserunning
Betts does not only offer the Red Sox Triple Crown-worthy offensive numbers, he also brings rare athleticism and intangibles. An example of this came when the game was still close.
In the third inning, Betts hit a leadoff single. Benintendi followed with a single to left. Andrew McCutchen was a tick slow to field the ball, and Betts -- both speedy and savvy -- went all the way to third base. This had the added benefit of baiting a throw to third, which allowed Benintendi to advance to second.
Betts scored a moment later on J.D. Martinez's sacrifice fly.
Nathan Eovaldi neutralizes Yanks' offense
Eovaldi, a former Yankee, is another starter with a fastball that can touch, and even exceed, 100 mph. Several key Yankee hitters are typically vulnerable against those speeds, according to the internal metrics of one team: Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Aaron Hicks, who did not play due to a hamstring injury.
Aaron Judge, on the other hand, has the highest exit velocity in baseball against pitches 95 and above. He showed this in the first inning, when he spoiled a 100 mph pitch, and lined one at 101 mph to right. It was an out, but Judge smoked it. He singled off Eovaldi in the sixth.