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Severino looks sharp as the New York Yankees cruise past Toronto (Highlights)

The New York Yankees earned their second win of spring training action behind a strong showing by Luis Severino and two home runs by Starlin Castro and Billy McKinney.

  • Toronto Blue Jays: 2 (0-2)
  • New York Yankees: 7 (2-1)
  • Grapefruit League, FINAL
  • George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL

After dropping one in Clearwater on Saturday, the New York Yankees bounced back against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon, beating them by a score of 7-2.

Luis Severino got his first start of the spring, looking to put his rough sophomore season behind him and did just that. The 22-year old went two innings and didn’t allow a single hit while striking out one.

Johnny Barbato relieved the youngster and combined with Jason Gurka, Brady LailJ.P. Feyereisen and J.R. Graham for nine strikeouts over seven innings of three-hit ball. Lail was the only starter that ran into trouble by serving up a two-run home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the top of the sixth.

Offensively, the Yankees saw some pop from Starlin Castro, who tattooed a three-run jack in the third, and Billy McKinney, who lined a two-run home run to right in the bottom of the seventh.

Matt Holliday went 1-for-2 with a RBI groundout in the third. Brett Gardner, who led the Bombers in runs created in 2016, also recorded a RBI on a single up the middle in the fifth to score Aaron Hicks from second.

Seven runs on five hits were more than enough for New York to coast to their second win of spring training.

Starlin’ My Darlin’

Castro, who became one of four Yankees’ second baseman in team history to hit 20 or more home runs, launched his first home run of 2017 in the bottom of the third off Bo Schultz.

The wind was blowing in from left field, but that didn’t stop Castro from hitting the scoreboard out in left center field for a three-run bomb. He put the Yankees up 3-0 with the first scoring play of the afternoon.

Midseason Form

In the top of the third inning, after a Jon Berti walk, Gary Sanchez showed off his cannon of a right arm by firing a bullet to shortstop Didi Gregorius to nail Berti on a steal attempt.

Later that inning, Ezequiel Carrera attempted to steal after he walked but, just like Berti learned, you don’t run on Gary Sanchez. Carrera would suffer the same fate and end the inning after being thrown out by a solid three feet.

In 2016, Sanchez registered a 41 percent caught stealing percentage, seventh-best among major league catchers with at least 300 innings behind the plate.

Changing It Up

One thing Severino struggled with in 2016 was the lack of a changeup. According to Brooks Baseball, he used it just 9.69 percent which made it difficult for him to maintain success as a starting pitcher.

As a starting pitcher, batters hit .237 off Severino’s fastball, .182 off his changeup, and .135 off of his slider when facing him for the first time in 2016. For the third (or more) time, batters hit .278 off Severino’s fastball, .500 off his changeup and .313 off his slider.

That comes down to the fact that the youngster was trying to succeed as a major league starter with two pitches. During his spring debut, he put the changeup to work.

During his final frame, he struck out Rowdy Tellez on an 88 mph changeup down and away after showing him a 95 mph fastball in that same at-bat.

Facing Dwight Smith Jr. with two outs, Severino started him off with two fastballs for balls at 95 mph, two changeups at 88 and 89 mph for strikes then got him to ground out on another fastball. It’s early, but the Yankees have to like seeing a crisp variety from Severino after an abysmal sophomore campaign.

What’s Next? 

The Yankees will hit the road and take on the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. 25-year-old righty Chad Green will get his first start of the spring. 

Last season, In three starts between August 3 and August 21, against the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels, Chad Green struck out 18 batters over 15.2 innings while only giving up four runs (2.30 ERA).

After that, however, Green gave up four home runs in his final two starts before being shut down with right elbow pain. Overall, he went 2-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 games (eight starts) with a strikeout rate of 10.2 K/9.

First pitch comes your way at 1:05 pm ET on MLB Network and MASN with Elite Sports NY providing postgame highlights and analysis.