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.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.