Judge still at 61 HRs, Severino 7 no-hit innings for Yankees

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers
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ARLINGTON, Texas – While Aaron Judge is down to three more games to try to get his 62nd home run for the New York Yankees, Luis Severino was nearly perfect in a promising final start before the playoffs.

Severino faced the minimum 21 batters with one walk while pitching seven no-hit innings, in only his third start since missing two months with a strained right lat, before the Texas Rangers broke through against New York’s bullpen in the Yankees’ 3-1 win on Monday night.

Judge has gone without a homer in four games, and his only one in the last 12 was No. 61 on Wednesday in Toronto that tied Roger Maris’ American League record. He went 1 for 4 with an infield single against Texas, and is 2 for 12 with five walks and a hit by pitch since that last long ball.

The Yankees and Rangers play a day-night doubleheader Tuesday before closing the regular season Wednesday.

Manager Aaron Boone said after the game that he hadn’t spoken yet with Judge about whether he would play both games Tuesday.

“I’m going to kind of get with him, figure out what we want to do,” Boone said.

Boone had a one-sided conversation with Severino (7-3). The manager wasn’t going to push him.

Severino wanted to go back out and said he was “1,000%” positive he could have finished the no-hitter. But he understood why Boone didn’t give in.

“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. We’re looking for the bigger picture.”

Severino threw 63 of 94 pitches for strikes for the AL East champions.

“It’s still just a decision that just sucks to happen because he was very efficient,” Boone said. “To have to be the one that shuts that down is not fun, but one you’ve got to do.”

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 130 RBIs trails Minnesota’s Luis Arraez .315 to 311 in the batting race.

With many in the crowd of 35,906 wearing Yankees jerseys and chanting “M-V-P!, M-V-P!” when Judge batted, his hit came on a checked-swing leading off the sixth when he was jammed, along with a groundout, a strikeout and a liner into a double play.

“We did a nice job of keeping him at bay,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “He didn’t hurt us at all. I thought overall we threw the ball well.”

Severino, hoping for a postseason rotation spot, struck out seven and averaged 97.9 mph for 47 fastballs, reaching a top velocity of 100.3 mph. He threw 17 changeups, 16 sliders, 11 sinkers and three cutters.

“I was feeling good from the beginning,” Severino said. “The fastball was electric today, it was spot-on.”

Texas’ only runner off him was Josh Smith, who walked in the third and was immediately erased when No. 9 batter Bubba Thompson grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“Pretty certain he would have got that no-hitter … the fastball had, like, crazy life today,” said catcher Kyle Higashioka, drawing comparisons to Corey Kluber‘s no-hitter he caught at Texas in 2021, about six weeks after San Diego’s Joe Musgrove also no-hit the Rangers there.

Castro, in his first appearance since July 10 after recovering from a strained shoulder, struck out Adolis Garcia to open the eighth. Rookie third baseman Josh Jung, who is hitting just .195, lined a single over shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Jonah Heim followed with another solid single before Kole Calhoun‘s RBI groundout.

Marwin Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the eighth off just-in reliever Jonathan Hernandez. Stanton hit a 457-foot drive and reached 30 homers for the seventh time. Judge struck out between those long balls.

Scott Effross worked the ninth for his his third save with the Yankees.

Martin Perez (12-8) allowed only one run over six innings while give up five hits and walking five. The Rangers turned five of their club record-tying six double plays behind the All-Star left-hander.

ONLY SECOND TIME

The roof was open at Globe Life Field, where New York had played only once before – a four-game series last year when Judge had 14 at-bats and a walk without going deep. But the slugger did hit the final homer in the Rangers’ former stadium across the street when the Yankees were the opponent for the last game played there in 2019.

OPENING SIX MONTHS LATER

The opener of the four-game series was the 159th game of the season for both teams. It was initially supposed be the season opener six months ago before MLB’s 99-day offseason lockout delayed spring training and postponed the first week of the regular season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of flu-like symptoms. … Boone said he had no update on reliever Ron Marinaccio, who exited Sunday after 12 pitches because of a sore right shin. Marinaccio did have an MRI. … Reliver Clay Holmes (rotator cuff inflammation) is scheduled to start throwing Tuesday to build up for the playoffs. … DJ LeMahieu went 1 for 3 in his third game in four days since missing three weeks because of an inflamed right second toe.

Rangers: Rookie LHP Cole Ragans (0-3 in his first nine big league starts this season) was placed on the injured list with a left calf strain.

UP NEXT

RHP Jameson Taillon (14-5, 3.83 ERA) is set to pitch the opener for the Yankees, with RHP Gerrit Cole (13-7, 3.51) in the nightcap. Texas will go with RHP Jon Gray (7-7, 3.93) for the day game, and a bullpen game for Game 2.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.