IKF proves better arm than Severino, bullpen in Yankees’ disastrous rout

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is pitching in the Yankees vs. Orioles game on July 7, 2023.

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On Thursday against the Orioles, Isiah Kiner-Falefa became the best arm for the Yankees. He made his fourth appearance as a pitcher this season and pitched a scoreless ninth inning. However, the damage already done by starter Luis Severino and the stars in the bullpen pushed the team to a devastating 14-1 loss.

In a surprising turn of events, Kiner-Falefa, who was defending at third base, was called by the Yankees manager to showcase his pitching skills in the 2023 season. Despite limited opportunities, the Hawaiian native has impressed, conceding only one run in his four innings on the mound.

His pitching appearances have mainly occurred in challenging situations, with the Yankees trailing by significant margins. In one such instance, with the team down 14-0, Kiner-Falefa entered the game and delivered a scoreless inning, allowing just one hit.

Notably, he even received run support in the bottom of the ninth. This unexpected versatility adds a new dimension to Kiner-Falefa’s already impressive repertoire this year with the Yankees. Moreover, his recent offensive contributions at the plate have sparked the notion of a future league with players excelling both as top-level hitters and pitchers.

Severino and the bullpen let down the Yankees

However, the Yankees lost primarily as their established starters fail to perform. Severino, who struggled in his previous start against the Cardinals, allowing nine hits and nine runs (seven earned) in just four innings, faced a similar lack of success in Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium. The Orioles managed to collect 10 hits off Severino, and it’s worth noting that the majority of those hits were solidly struck. Severino, who is heading into the All-Star break, has become the primary focus of the crowd’s displeasure as he continues to struggle on the mound.

Luis Severino head the dugout after he was removed in the first inning.
Brad Prenner / USA Today

On Thursday, Severino delivered another disappointing performance, similar to his previous outing where he gave up a season-high nine runs, seven of which were earned, in just four innings against St. Louis.

In a span of just 2 ²/₃ innings, Severino struggled as he allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits. It was a challenging outing for him, evident by the fact that he threw 77 pitches in that short span. Severino’s struggles continued as he was pulled from the game with two outs in the third inning, having already surrendered seven runs to the Orioles.

The Yankees’ decision to add Carlos Rodon to the rotation on Friday indicates that they still have concerns about the overall quality of their pitching staff.

Following Adam Frazier’s single to center field, the crowd at the Stadium expressed their displeasure with Severino by booing loudly, prompting pitching coach Matt Blake to make a visit to the mound.

Severino recorded a strikeout against Urias for the second out, but he was pulled from the game after Henderson’s RBI single, leading to further disapproval from the crowd as he made his way back to the dugout.

“I’m not doing my job right now. I mean that’s not my choice. I’m not worried,” Severino said. “… I just need to figure out what’s going on and try to get to my old self.”

Albert Abreu, who entered the game in relief of Severino, fared even worse as he surrendered six runs and managed to retire only two batters.

Severino’s struggles continued in what has been a disappointing season for him, as his ERA skyrocketed to 7.38. This is surely not the performance he had hoped for as he approaches free agency.

His underwhelming display on the mound comes at an unfortunate time, particularly considering his inability to complete a full, injury-free season since 2018.

Yankees offensive slip

AP Photo/ Frank Franklin II

Despite the pitching struggles, the Yankees’ offense was equally ineffective in their matchup against Kyle Braddish. He had a strong start to the game, retiring 11 out of the first 12 batters he faced. The only exception was Anthony Rizzo, who managed a two-out single in the first inning.

Boone made changes to the lineup in an effort to spark the offense. He moved Anthony Volpe back to the leadoff spot, shifted Rizzo to the third spot, placed Harrison Bader in the cleanup position, and slotted the struggling LeMahieu in the seventh spot, a position he hadn’t started in all season.

The Yankees struggled to generate hits after Rizzo’s single, with their next hit coming in the sixth inning when Gleyber Torres singled with one out. They were on the verge of being shutout until Billy McKinney came through with an RBI single in the ninth inning, just one out away from the end of the game.

The Yankees, after splitting the four-game series with the second-place Baltimore Orioles, find themselves four games behind in the race for the top AL wild-card spot. They are currently in a competitive battle with the Toronto Blue Jays for the remaining playoff berth.

The atmosphere at the Stadium was unpleasant as both Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton faced consistent jeering from the crowd. Adding to the mix, former Yankee Aaron Hicks had been subjected to heckling for three consecutive days before being unexpectedly sidelined as a late scratch in Thursday’s game.

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