Luis Severino makes first MLB appearance in almost two years as Yankees beat Rangers

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On the 21st night of September, the Yankees played a game so harmonious, that Earth, Wind & Fire would be proud, beating the Rangers 7-1 and keeping pace with the Red Sox and Blue Jays, who also won on Tuesday, in the Wild Card race. The Yankees are 1.5 games behind Wild Card-leading Boston and a half game behind Toronto, which holds the second spot.

Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery kept a steady groove all night, while Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge each bashed face-melting home runs.

But what should really have the Yankees dancing was the return of Luis Severino, who closed things out with a flourish in his return to the stage for the first time in nearly two full years.

“It was a lot,” Severino said. “The fans yelling my name was special for me. You can think about it, but there’s nothing like getting there. It was really fun.”

“Proud moment for him, and for his teammates, and for all of us,” manager Aaron Boone said of Severino. “We’re talking about a great pitcher in this league who has obviously had the injury bug and battled different things. He worked his tail off to get to this moment.”

Severino was presented with the Yankees’ player of the game belt in the postgame clubhouse. For a man who debuted for the team all the way back in 2015, and said he visualized this moment a hundred times, a return as triumphant as this was equal parts heartwarming and reminiscent of just how special his right arm can be. Not even a faint drizzle could damper his spirits.

“I was not thinking about the rain,” Severino said. “It doesn’t matter if it was freaking thunder there.”

For the second night in a row, the Yankees took an early lead against a young Rangers’ starter. Judge put runners at second and third with a double into the right center gap before Stanton cashed in the first run of the night with a broken bat grounder to short. Stanton would add his 83rd RBI of the season two innings later with his 31st dinger. Like many of his most impressive demolitions, this Stanton home run left his teammates in awe.

“Stanton comes up with a big knock, hit it about 130 (miles per hour),” Judge kidded. “I feel bad for the fans sometimes.”

That 118-mile per hour pellet inside the left field foul pole sent Rangers’ pitcher Dane Dunning to the showers, having gotten just eight outs. The Yankees’ next runs came against Kolby Allard, the Texas mop up man who had a 5.23 ERA before taking the mound. Allard was dinked and dunked for three straight singles in the fifth, with the last one resulting in an RBI for Anthony Rizzo, before Allard mistakenly left a tepid fastball right down the chute to former teammate Gallo, who made sure Allard did not get that ball back.

The second-deck shot was Gallo’s 38th of the season and 13th since jumping from the Rangers to the Yankees. When his looping fly ball finally landed, the Yankees had their fourth run. The last time the Rangers scored four runs in a game was Sept. 14, and their lineup of trainee hitters had a predictably tough time with Montgomery.

The reserved lefty attacked his last-place opponents, throwing strikes on 56 of his 93 pitches (60%). His only trouble arrived in the fourth inning when Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Andy Ibañez put themselves on first and third with a single and a walk. Nick Solak took advantage of the drawn back infield to get Kiner-Falefa home on a productive groundout, and Montgomery only needed two more pitches to get out of the inning after that.

Montgomery’s final line shows four hits, six strikeouts and the lone run over 5.2 innings. Should the Yankees achieve their postseason dreams, they should have a more-than-capable second starter to follow Gerrit Cole. Montgomery now has a 3.55 ERA.

The Yankees refused to ease up on Allard as he was forced to eat some innings. The crushing blow came in the seventh. Still recovering from what Gallo did to him, Allard gave up a three-run home run to Judge, his 36th of the season.

Severino, rather than getting a sticky situation for his first MLB game since 2019, got a six-run lead to work with in the top of the eighth. His fastball was more 94 and 95 than 97 and 98, but it didn’t seem to matter.

“I think everyone was excited to see him back out there,” Montgomery stated. “I can only imagine how excited he was. He can definitely build off that.”

After giving up a double that threatened to spoil Severino’s feel-good moment, the righty got Kiner-Falefa on his best breaking pitch in nearly two full years for an ovation-inducing strikeout.

“There’s gotta be rust, nerves, all of that, and I thought he handled that really well,” Boone smiled. “I thought he executed a number of different pitches.” The manager also disclosed that he wasn’t going to bring Severino in with traffic on the bases and has no plans to use him in consecutive days.

There was no need for Aroldis Chapman in this one. Instead, Severino threw a second inning, putting the finishing touches on a win that kept the Yankees trending in the right direction at just the right time.

“No matter what happened, I was trying to win this game,” Severino said.

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