The Elusive 4-0

Bronx, N.Y., June 16, 2018; Yankees 4, Tampa 1 — The superb Luis Severino turned in his routine dazzling performance under stunningly beautiful skies in Yankee Stadium Saturday afternoon, and the Yanks took their third straight from the Tampa Rays, 4-1. Following on a season ticket holder photo event pregame with retired players in town for Sunday’s Old Timer’s Day festivities, it seemed a perfect day, but not — apparently — for an increasingly restive and demanding fanbase.

With Tampa’s lineup peopled by an all-rookie infield, it seemed a mismatch, and it was. Once Severino swatted the visitors down early despite two walks and two singles the first two frames — helped by a caught stealing and a double play the hard-throwing righty started himself — the young Rays were done. If only the Yanks could score. And it turned out they could, with — to the surprise of no one — the early action carried by Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres. DHing this day, Judge doubled his first two times to the plate, the second a rising laser to just right of center that Tampa center fielder Mallex Smith chased in vein; the height of the Monument Park wall was all that prevented it from rising “right out of here.”

It was after this latter base hit (in the third) that the “All Risen” guy crossed the plate, driven in by Sir Didi, a player who has seemed rejuvenated since he spent much of Monday afternoon playing in mud and foam with little kids at a charity event, shared in the Stadium Tuesday as the opening of Hope Week festivities. Gregorius’s RBI single padded an already forged 1-0 lead, once Torres had doubled in Greg Bird following a walk and hit in the second.

And although 2-0 is hardly a shut-down score, it seemed so secure under Sevy’s trustworthy hands that the back-to-back Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez home runs in the home fourth served as, rather than a lock on the game, more a salve to the hurt feelings of a clientele that has made it clear that they expect better than what they’ve recently seen from these two, one a traded-for star, the other an anointed one.

The level of Severino control was palpable. He struck out a batter in each of the first seven innings, emphasizing his point by whiffing an additional opponent in the fifth and seventh. He was stretched beyond 13 pitches in an inning — how we fans suffered through 19 throws when he issued a leadoff walk to Jack Bauers in the fourth — just once, threw first-pitch strikes to six of nine hitters each of three times through the lineup, and strode off the mound after the eighth not having posted a strike out because he dispatched three straight on eight pitches, ending with two weak infield popups. The walk in the fourth may have cost him a complete game.

That would have delighted an until the ninth deliriously happy crowd, but the 101 pitches prompted Aaron Boone to sit him after eight, and an ineffective Chasen Shreve promptly soured the mood. He gave up a two-strike home run to Matt Duffy, stealing our 4-0 shutout from us, then Bauers tripled to center field. The latter drive popped out of the glove of Aaron Hicks, who did a good job retreating and catching up to the liner, but it had found pocket, and could have been ruled an error. But that doesn’t change the fact that Chasen was 2-for-2 on surrendering blistered, deep line drives.

Of course, it was Chapman to the rescue. Aroldis doesn’t as routinely cross highway 101 with his heater as he did when he arrived in the Bronx, and he can throw a lot of balls, but don’t be surprised if you look “effective” up in the dictionary and his picture is there. He finished the Rays off, one-two-three, holding Bauers at third on a one-out hopper to the box, before striking out Joey Wendle to close it in a nifty 2:47.

The Rays used “the opener” in this one, sending southpaw reliever Ryne Stanek out to get four outs, before sort-of starter Ryan Yarbrough came on to face Bird with one down in the second. A four-pitch walk got the lefty in immediate trouble and a one-run deficit; the 41-pitch, one-run home third took forever, but the young lefty was better afterward, until Stanton and Sanchez sent him packing after five.

There were stranger things too, including Severino taking control on a Carlos Gomez popup around the plate to start the top of the fifth. Sanchez seemed to be getting control after initially struggling to get his bearings, as Miguel Andujar bore down from third, but Luis ran in, thrusting his glove above that of his catcher’s, and made the grab. Stranger still was the pregame show on the Scoreboard, where they accurately showed all of the highlights of Friday night’s 5-0 win, until closing by displaying the final score as 4-0.

Then we had to sit through Shreve ruining the actual 4-0 shutout score he was handed. It is unfortunate, of course, that Chapman was needed, because this team faces a mid-homestand trip to DC for two (one and one-third?) on Monday before returning for three against the Mariners. Reliever arms could be put to the test. But Saturday’s crowd had little thought for Monday. They were unhappy we were robbed of yet another,

Elusive 4-0 Game