Boone makes tough call to pull starter: ‘I think it was a good decision’
ARLINGTON — For the better part of two weeks, every Aaron Judge at-bat has carried the weight of history, with the Yankees slugger hoping to etch his name into the record books. On Monday, it was Luis Severino’s turn to flirt with immortality, proclaiming his “1,000 percent” certainty that he would’ve completed a no-hitter if given the chance.
Making his final tune-up before the American League Division Series, Severino had his arsenal crackling over seven hitless innings, facing the minimum before a rising pitch count forced the Yankees to turn the game over to the bullpen in a 3-1 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Field.
“To throw a no-hitter is tough,” Severino said. “You need all your guys out there, but how the fastball was, I feel like I would’ve come through. Nobody wants to [come]out in that situation, but I understand. I’ve been out for a couple of months.”
Severino struck out seven, the last of which was a swinging punchout of Nathaniel Lowe, prompting manager Aaron Boone to intercept the right-hander at the dugout stairs. Boone placed his hands upon Severino’s shoulders, and though Severino shook his head and refused to make eye contact, Boone was firm: “I can’t let you do it.”
“I was trying to fight him, but you can’t do anything about it,” Severino said. “He asked me, ‘What do you think?’ I told him, ‘I would die out there.’”
Making his first appearance since July 10, Miguel Castro allowed a clean eighth-inning single to Josh Jung, breaking up the bid for a combined no-hitter.
“It was great to see Sevy just dominate today,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 30th homer in the win. “His velo was up, touching 100 [mph]. Everything looked on, and he was confident. It looked good.”
Boone said the call to remove Severino (who threw 94 pitches) was not particularly close, though he acknowledged that it was “a decision that sucks to have to make.” Severino was slated to throw about 90 pitches after tossing 76 in his previous start on Sept. 26 at Toronto, having returned from the injured list on Sept. 21 vs. Pittsburgh.
“The decision would have been if he was through eight [innings]. I didn’t really want to go more than 90 with him today,” Boone said. “I wasn’t going to take him to 120, 125, 130 pitches tonight, and that’s where it probably would have to go to finish [a no-hitter]. It puts a little damper on the night, honestly. It’s not a fun thing to have to do.”
Severino missed two months of the season due to a strained right lat, shelved after an abbreviated July 13 outing. The focus, Boone said, has to be ensuring Severino can bring this type of performance into the ALDS and beyond — a statement that the pitcher eventually agreed with.
“I think it was a good decision,” Severino said. “I don’t want to go out there and hurt myself and not be good for the postseason.”
Not that Severino’s teammates would have complained if he had continued. Catcher Kyle Higashioka didn’t realize Severino was throwing a no-hitter until the seventh inning, when the growing crowd reaction to each out was a telltale indication.
“The fastball had crazy life today,” Higashioka said. “I think he must have been averaging 98 [mph]. He has three plus pitches: fastball, slider, changeup. This is a good warmup for the postseason for him. He had his best stuff today. I really like what I’m seeing.”
Higashioka said Severino’s command was comparable to the last no-hitter thrown by a Yankee: Corey Kluber’s gem on May 19, 2021 — on this same diamond.
“Corey had everything going that night,” Higashioka said. “Everything seemed a tick sharper than usual. For seven innings [with Severino], it was pretty much the same.”
Judge remained at 61 homers with three regular-season games left, aiming to eclipse Roger Maris for the single-season AL home run record. He finished 1-for-4, dropping his batting average to .311, four points behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez (.315) for the AL lead.
Boone said that he has not yet decided if Judge will start both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
“Everyone wants to see [No. 62]; he’s just sitting there taking his walks and hitting the ball hard,” Stanton said. “Even though people don’t like doubles and singles at this time, it doesn’t matter. He’s doing what he can with what they’re giving him.”