Yankees Postgame Notebook: Sterling Sevy, explosive offense kick off homestand with rout of Miami
The offense exploded out of the gate, scoring two in the first and leaving the bases loaded against ex-Yankee Caleb Smith; that latter point could have been a mood-killer for the rest of the night, but Aaron Judge's two-out, solo homer in the second made it 3-0, and the Yankees put up crooked numbers in each of the next three innings.
"It was great from Jump Street, we had competitive at-bats from the get-go," Boone said. "We only got two across in the first but got Smith up to over 40 pitches, and they just kept grinding at-bats. I thought the focus to start off this homestand after a couple of bad weather days was really strong."
"Just a lot of quality at-bats. It starts with the top of our lineup with Gardy getting things going early," Judge added of the first inning, "and then (Stanton) working a walk, Gary (Sanchez) coming up big, and it kept going. That's a team just keeping the line moving."
All told, the Yankees had all nine starters reach base at least once by the fifth, and while there were a lot of catalysts, the biggest spark plug was likely Didi Gregorius, who notched his second multi-homer game of the season by going deep in the fourth and seventh.
"I think we're seeing a 28-year-old who has gotten better every year since he's been here, and a really good player in his prime continuing to get better," Boone said of Didi. "He's giving a lot of tough at-bats, and we're just watching a really good player continue to get better and better."
And, they did it all without much of a contribution from Giancarlo Stanton, who was playing his first game against his former team; Stanton was hit by a pitch ahead of Gregorius' two-out homer in the fourth, but in his other four plate appearances, he walked, struck out twice and fouled out with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth.
"I still think he's close," Boone said of the slugger. "He came out tonight and was on-base his first at-bat, and then it turns into a lopsided game where maybe the zone got opened up on him a little. He's really grinded through his at-bats, too, it's just about finding that elite timing. When he does, he'll take off."
On the other side, well, perfect is about the only word you can't use to describe Luis Severino's performance. Boone said pregame he expected a lot out of Sevy, especially after a rough outing in Boston last Tuesday, and the righty delivered; he struck out eight over six scoreless innings and allowed just two baserunners, a leadoff walk in the second and a double in the fourth that were both stranded.
"I was just finishing my breaking pitches tonight; I thought my last outing I wasn't doing that, so I worked with Larry (Rothschild) on that in the bullpen, and I threw more of my changeup," Severino said. "Me and Gary (Sanchez) have a good connection; he knows when I need a pitch, or what pitch I want to throw, so I didn't have to shake him off very much."
"You can measure stuff pretty well from where we sit, and for him, it's just so easy; it almost looks like he's just playing catch, and you look up and it's 98 or 99 MPH," Boone added. "Josh Bard and I said to each other at one point that it's like facing a closer three times through. It's so easy the way he's able to create such electric stuff but look like he's not working too hard to do it. He's a special pitcher."
Severino needed just 86 pitches tonight, and on a day where Boone wanted to make sure the bullpen got some work, he pulled Sevy after six and turned it over to the relievers for the final three frames.
"He fought me a little to go back out there, but once we got up to 11-0, I thought it was best to get him out after six and get the bullpen some work," Boone said.
"I was feeling good and wanted to go out there, but they didn't let me," Sevy added with a smile.
In the end, it's a two-game winning streak for the Yankees, and they'll go for the two-game sweep on Tuesday, when a win would give them mini-sweeps over both Florida teams just three weeks into 2018.
"We had two days off, so it was refreshing for us to come back like we did tonight," Gregorius said. "Everyone was loose and ready to play, but we have to stay that way going forward."
A few more notes and quotes from the homestand opener:
-Gregorius popped out with the bases loaded in the first, but that just set the tone for the night ahead, and he came through as he has most of the season: "The guys in front of me give me confidence; they're always on base, so you want to drive them in. I failed my first at-bat, but I came through the next couple of at-bats. Helping each other is the main thing."
-Boone has challenged Didi to be more selective at the plate, and this was Gregorius' answer when asked how he's responded to the challenge: "It's a work in progress, but I'm just trying to see good pitches to hit. (Boone) told me to try to take pitches that aren't good to hit, and if it's a ball, then I'm up. That's all I'm trying to do. I'm still trying to learn all that and still get on base for the next day."
-Judge became the fastest player in MLB history to reach 60 home runs (doing so in 197 games), but as you might expect, he's not concerned with that: "It's just another home run, I was just happy to add another run to the board. Maybe at the end of my career I'll reflect on something like that, but we have goals to accomplish this year, and I'm going to focus on that."
-Boone can be excited about Judge, though: "He kind of sets the tone with his at-bat quality, which has been through the roof no matter what his result has been. The pitcher has to work really hard and make all his best pitches to retire him, but time and time again he just grinds them down. He's at a really good place at the plate right now."
-Here's Judge on what it's like to play behind Severino: "We feed off that energy, him attacking hitters and doing his thing. All his pitches were working tonight, and he makes it look too easy."
-Brandon Drury took batting practice and some ground balls at third today, and Boone saw a positive step: "He did pretty well. Pretty light workout today that wasn't overly strenuous, but I think he came out feeling well, and hopefully it's a positive step along the way."
-Last word also goes to the skipper, this his answer when asked if he saw any extra emotion in Stanton's first game against his former team: I'm sure there was some internal stuff going on, but I didn't sense anything different. I've been in that situation, where you face a team you played with for a long time for the first time, and it was odd for me. So, I'm sure there were some emotions there, but he got to see them in Spring Training, which I'm sure counts for something."