NEW YORK (AP) — In his latest peak performance, Luis Severino took matters into his own hands — and glove.
Severino jumped to steal away a popup from catcher Gary Sanchez while pitching eight sharp innings, leading the New York Yankees over the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 Saturday.
“He didn’t say, ‘I got it’ and I was there,” Severino quipped. “So you know I went for the ball. . He said, ‘You took it from my glove.'”
Giancarlo Stanton and Sanchez hit back-to-back home runs as New York won for the 13th time in 16 games. It was the Rays’ 18th loss in 22 games at Yankee Stadium.
Severino (10-2) simply overwhelmed a weak-hitting Rays lineup that has produced just one run over its last 21 innings. The 24-year-old righty gave up three hits, struck out nine and walked two, tying Cleveland’s Corey Kluber for the AL win lead.
Severino showed off other talents, too.
In the fifth, Carlos Gomez led off with a popup high above the plate. As Sanchez looked into the sun trying to find the ball, Severino sprung off the mound. They were next to each other, slightly in foul ground, when Severino leaped to catch the ball, right above Sanchez’s mitt.
Took it right away from his best friend on the team, in fact.
“I tried to block it a little bit more with the glove. I found the ball, I was in a good spot and I had it right there,” Sanchez said. “And I was surprised when I heard the steps. I think it was an instinct of his. He tried to assure his out.”
Sanchez gave Severino a look, perhaps wondering why the pitcher came into the picture, before they went back to work.
Said Aaron Judge: “He’s an athlete out there. I think he is trying to win a Gold Glove.”
The play on Gomez came during a stretch of 11 straight batters Severino retired before Joey Wendle singled with two outs in the seventh. Severino then threw a 99 mph fastball past Gomez to strike him out.
Severino was perfect in the eighth, and Chasen Shreve relieved to begin the ninth.
Matt Duffy hit a leadoff homer against Shreve and homered for just the fourth time this year, cutting the lead 4-1, and Jake Bauers followed with a triple that bounced out of center fielder Aaron Hicks’ glove.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman then set down the next three batters for his 20th save in 21 chances.
The Rays have lost 12 of their last 16 games and have one more game in the Bronx on Sunday before continuing their seven-game road trip Monday with three games at defending champion Houston.
“No matter what stage, rebuild or expected to win or whatever, losing always tends to be something that is not fun,” Duffy said. “We have some adjustments to make.”
New York has won Severino’s last 12 starts going back to Sept. 3. During that span, he is 9-0 with an 1.75 ERA.
Aaron Boone has gotten accustomed to it since taking over as the Yankees manager.
“Obviously, any time he goes I feel great about it,” Boone said. “He’s a great pitcher. He’s establishing himself as one of the best in the game and he gave us a lot today.”
New York didn’t fare too well against Ryne Stanek, who allowed a hit and struck out one over 1 1/3 scoreless inning on Tampa Bay’s designated “bullpen day.”
Ryan Yarbrough (5-3) gave up a run in the second on rookie Gleyber Torres’ two-out double. Didi Gregorius hit an RBI single in the third.
Stanton connected in the fifth for his 16th home run. Four pitches later, Sanchez hit his 13th homer over the center field fence — that snapped a homerless streak of 66 at-bats dating to May 19.
Prior to the game, the Yankees acquired 2B Wendell Rijo to complete the May 25 trade that sent C Erik Kratz to Milwaukee. The 22-year-old will report to Single-A Tampa. Rijo was hitting .200 with four homers and 14 RBI in 32 games for Double-A Biloxi in the Southern League.
Yankees prospect Jonathan Loaisiga felt honored by the glowing remarks Rays manager Kevin Cash made after the 23-year-old debuted Friday night with a win, throwing five scoreless innings while striking out six while walking four.
Cash compared the Nicaraguan rookie to Mariano Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader, but joked he was hopeful that Loaisiga wouldn’t develop the same devastating cutter that the former Yankees closer owned.
“I think that comment is something very flattering because to mention Mariano, you’re talking about a superstar and someone who was historic,” said Loaisiga, adding that he had never met the future Hall of Famer from Panama. “I think that it’s something that almost too good.”
Yankees veteran lefty CC Sabathia (4-1, 3.27 ERA) will try to win his third straight start Sunday. For the second consecutive game, Tampa Bay “start” a reliever, this time Wilmer Font (0-1, 6.87 ERA).