BOSTON — It’s no secret that the New York Yankees need Luis Severino if they are going to make any real noise down the stretch and into the postseason.
And after a poor four-game run, the young righty remains optimistic as he heads into Friday’s second game of a four-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“I still feel good,” Severino, who faces 13-game winner Rick Porcello Friday, said in New York Wednesday. “I watched a little film this week, but I didn’t see anything different from the first half, so I think it was just a few bad starts. That’s what I’m hoping.
“I’ve been through more than this before, so I’ll figure it out. And we will, too. The Red Sox’s lead on us isn’t that much. We still can catch them, but we need to beat them when we play them. That’s the main thing.”
A Severino rebound has become even more important after the events of the last two days for the Yankees. Defensive lapses helped lower New York’s record against lowly Baltimore to 6-6 — and the Red Sox pounded the Yankees 15-7 Thursday night.
So the Yanks, now 6 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, turn to their ace, who has yielded 33 hits and 19 earned runs in just 20 innings in his last four. He has also given up seven home runs over that span and has been studying video on what might be wrong. The slide has dropped him to 14-4 and raised his ERA to 2.94.
Porcello doesn’t need to study any video as he steams toward his second 20-win season in the last three. He is 13-4 with a 4.03 ERA, his wins total leading his team. He went 4-1 in July, with a clunker followed by two wins to end the month.
Ex-Yankee Steve Pearce hit three homers and the Red Sox rallied from an early four-run deficit to again climb to 42 games above .500.
“We go from our top five hitters going 0-for-100 against the Phillies in one game, then all of a sudden that happens,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, whose top five went 16-for-26 with 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored in the rout. “We’ll take our chances. We’re good offensively. We can do a lot of things. On a daily basis we feel like we can score runs against anybody.”
Brian Johnson, who replaced the injured Chris Sale for the start, struck out 11 and gave up three home runs in five innings, getting the win, while Jonathan Holder relieved CC Sabathia in the fourth inning, faced seven batters and they all scored.
Porcello pitched seven shutout innings, allowing two hits, in beating the Yankees April 12 and had a no-decision May 9, leaving him 9-8 with a 3.31 ERA in 20 careers start against New York.
Severino is 1-1 in three starts against the Red Sox this year, just 3-5 with a 4.10 in 11 career games — 10 starts — lifetime. He is 1-2 with a 4.38 ERA in five games — four starts — at Fenway.
Andrew Benintendi is a sizzling 10-for-22 (.455) with two homers and 10 RBIs and Mitch Moreland 5-for-15 (.333) against Severino. But Brock Holt is 1-for-12 (.083), Xander Bogaerts 2-for-21 (.095), Sandy Leon 1-for-10 (.100), newcomer Ian Kinsler 3-for-15 (.200) and Jackie Bradley Jr. 4-for-20 (.200).
Giancarlo Stanton is 3-for-5 (.600) with five RBIs and Brett Gardner 16-for-52 (.308) with two homers against Porcello, but Neil Walker is 1-for-11 (.091), Greg Bird 1-for-9 (.111), Aaron Hicks 4-for-28 (.143) and Didi Gregorius 5-for-28 (.179).
The Yankee who has owned Porcello hasn’t played all year — Jacoby Ellsbury is 12-for-34 (.353) with four solo homers against the righty.
The Red Sox were missing Xander Bogaerts, out day to day with a bruised right hand, and then catcher Blake Swihart left the game with a tight hamstring and is also considered day to day.
“Just a little bit tight,” Cora said. “It’s humid. Long innings. Hopefully he’ll show up tomorrow and he feels better. We were planning on playing Sandy tomorrow anyway. We’ll take care of him and hopefully he can be available tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day, the Yankees placed J.A. Happ on the 10-day disabled list with hand, foot and mouth disease. Luis Cessa, who had been penciled in to start for Happ Saturday, was used in relief Thursday, leaving the Yankees without a named starter for Game 3 of the series.
Lance Lynn, named earlier in the day to replace the struggling Sonny Gray in the rotation, worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gray in his Yankees debut Wednesday.