HOUSTON — Luis Severino’s performance was the foulest in baseball in a decade.
We mean that literally.
Severino battled and battled and battled against an Astros club that battled right back. At-bats repeatedly were extended, strike three as elusive as ever.
Houston batters fouled off 41 pitches against Severino — the most by one team against one pitcher in a game since 2013 — in the Yankees’ 5-4 win at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.
“This is unique,” Severino said, accurately. “I haven’t seen my whole career something like this.”
The 41 foul balls off Severino represented the most by one team against one pitcher since the Brewers finished with 42 fouls against the Cardinals’ Shelby Miller on April 12, 2013, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Severino shattered his career-high, which was actually set two starts ago, when Nationals batters fouled off 28 balls against him on Aug. 23.
Former Yankee and current Athletics pitcher JP Sears previously had served up the most foul balls in a game this season, allowing 38 in Cleveland on June 22.
“It was incredible,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought Sevy threw the ball well. He was pounding the strike zone. … Credit to them for making it so difficult on him. They just kind of outlasted him.”
Severino’s velocity and movement were present, and he was around the strike zone during his 104-pitch night, with 75 strikes.
But an inability to put hitters away cost him in allowing four runs on six hits and a walk in four prolonged innings.
Severino’s frustration likely peaked during a 40-pitch second inning. Jose Abreu walked on pitch 13 of his at-bat — a face-off that included seven foul balls — before Michael Brantley hammered a two-run home run.
The Astros would not score another run in the inning, but they were nonetheless successful in wearing Severino down.
Yainer Diaz struck out on pitch seven of his battle.
Chas McCormick singled after working Severino for 12 pitches.
Jeremy Pena hit a comebacker on pitch five, which Severino turned into a much-needed, inning-ending double play.
“I feel like with McCormick and Abreu, I threw like 40 pitches to those two guys,” said Severino, who threw a combined 36 pitches in four total plate appearances against the two Astros. “They made me work.”
Severino escaped the third inning before Houston cranked up its peskiness in the fourth.
Another marathon inning — this one costing Severino 25 pitches — ensured it would be Severino’s last, which included a two-run home run from Diaz on the seventh pitch of his at-bat.
Once seen as the team’s ace, Severino has tanked in his walk year and now holds a 6.75 ERA.
But the strong right-hander had appeared to turn a corner while throwing 13 ²/₃ scoreless innings in his previous two starts.
Facing one of the top offenses in baseball, Severino was not at his best but was not pulverized, either.
He kept the Yankees in the game, which allowed Jhony Brito to stitch together 3 ²/₃ scoreless innings before Clay Holmes recorded his 17th save.
“I was fighting tonight,” Severino said.
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