Oswaldo Cabrera hits first grand slam in 14-2 victory over Pirates

Oswaldo Cabrera hits first grand slam in 14-2 victory over Pirates

Luis Severino waited 45 days, not by his choice, to get back out there. Wednesday night, the Yankees right-hander went out and made the most of his first start since July 13. Severino allowed one run and two hits over five innings. Oswaldo Cabrera hit a grand slam in the first inning and Gleyber Torres hit two homers in the eighth as the Bombers beat the Pirates 14-2 at Yankee Stadium.

It was the third straight win for the Yankees (90-58), their seventh win in their last nine and the magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to two.

Aaron Judge doubled twice and was met with the groans from a sold-out crowd who had come to the Bronx Wednesday to see him make history. With 60 home runs and Roger Maris’ family in the ballpark, he is still one shy of Maris’ American League and Yankee single-season home run record. Judge also grounded out, struck out and walked on four straight pitches in the Yankees’ eight-run eighth.

Cabrera’s first inning grand slam was his third career home run. The Yankees had walked off Tuesday night’s win with a Giancarlo Stanton grand slam, the second time they had hit slams in consecutive innings.

The Yankees got to see a very good sign for their postseason hopes. Severino should be a big part of their playoff rotation, especially after returning like he did. He got ahead of hitters using his fastball, recording 15 first-pitch strikes out of the 18 Pirates he faced.

“I’ve been anxious to get back out there for 45 days,” Severino said Tuesday, making the point that he felt fine after the normal 15-day IL stint. “Really happy to be back and to contribute to the team.”

For the Yankees, the timing could not be better for Severino to come out and prove he is healthy for a postseason run. The righty returns from the injured list days after the team found out Frankie Montas would be shut down for at least 10 days and not knowing his status for the rest of the season. The Bombers acquired Montas specifically for his success against the Rays and Astros and with the idea he would be their No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole in a playoff series.

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Montas has struggled since the Yankees acquired him from Oakland and now that he is shut down with the same shoulder inflammation that sidelined him with the A’s for over two weeks, it is fair to wonder if he was ever healthy. He certainly has not proven himself a No. 2 starter with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.

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But Severino has certainly shown he can be a weapon down the stretch.

It’s been three long years of serious injuries since Severino was an All-Star in 2018, but he has returned from the 2020 Tommy John surgery stronger, with good stuff and the same bulldog mentality that had him speaking his mind against the team in July.

After pitching in just over 27 games over the previous three seasons because of the surgery and a lat strain that cost him almost all of the 2019 season, Severino pitched to a 3.45 ERA in his first 16 starts this season. He struck out 95 over 86.1 innings pitched.

The Yankees, from GM Brian Cashman to manager Aaron Boone, insisted that this was not a workload management maneuver. There was concern about the workload of both Severino, who had been limited by injuries and Nestor Cortes Jr., who had never pitched heavy innings before in his young career, heading into the season.

Instead, Cashman doubled down that Severino’s lat strain required a very deliberate ramp up. Severino, who of course had experience with the injury from 2019, disagreed. On the day that the Yankees acquired Montas at the trade deadline, the Yankees decided to move Severino from the regular 15-day IL to the 60-day. That coincidentally made room on the 40-man roster for Montas and Lou Trivino, who they had acquired together from Oakland. They made the move without telling Severino, who told reporters that day he was “not happy,” about it.

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Severino and Cortes Jr., who spent time on the IL for a shorter 15-day stint in August with what the team said was a left groin strain, could be crucial to the Yankees rotation down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Cole may be their No. 1 starter by definition, but he’s been struggling keeping the ball in the ballpark. His penchant for giving up home runs this season certainly brings up memories of him being yanked early after giving two homers and three earned runs without recording an out in the 2021 American League Wild Card Game.

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