The Yankees began a shortened two-game set at Fenway Park on Wednesday night against their arch-rival Boston Red Sox. The rivalry is in a transition with the recent departures of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez and the rise of both clubs’ top prospects. The next chapter began last night.
The birthday boy, Aaron Judge who turned 25 Wednesday, celebrated with an opposite field bomb to give the Yanks an early 2-0 lead against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello. He became the third Yankee to homer on their birthday at Fenway Park, following in Yogi Berra and Roger Maris’ footsteps.
He followed up his birthday blast with his best Derek Jeter impression, as he dove into the stands to make a phenomenal catch in the bottom of the third on a Xander Bogaerts foul ball.
Judge has been fantastic thus far for the bombers this season and is now tied for the AL lead in home runs.
As fun as Judge is to watch, it was all about Luis Severino last night. The right-handed starter admitted before the game that he didn’t like pitching at Fenway Park, after previously underperforming in Boston. This time he flipped the script and made a statement to the preseason AL East favorites.
Severino went seven shutout innings while fanning six. His fastball command and use of his changeup are what really stood out. He used pinpoint location to dot his 98 mph fastball on the corners, while mixing in his changeup to keep Boston’s sluggers off-balance. His slider has been nearly unhittable this season due to his consistency with his release point, disguising his pitches better.
Severino has a different attitude and swagger in his step this season after regaining his confidence. Severino looks to be in total control so far in 2017, beginning with his body language and ending with swings and misses.
Greg Bird finally put a good swing on a ball to drive in Judge with a shot off on the monster to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. He also worked a walk later on as he looks to get back to his spring form.
Dellin Betances came on in relief of Severino in the eighth and looked brilliant. Aroldis Chapman had a stressful ninth inning, working through a jam with 33 pitches while surrendering a run. He did escape with the help of a 98 mph fastball that blew away Josh Rutledge.
The Bombers will be back in action tonight at Fenway at 7:10pm with Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka sharing the bump in the final game of this two game series.