Severino threw 94, and barely resembled the pitcher who has given so much ballast to the Yankees rotation, carrying a 14-2 record and a 2.12 earned run average into the game.
The hints came early. Lindor cracked Severino’s second pitch — a fastball — into the right-field corner. Severino was fortunate that he did not give up more than four runs, aided by catcher Austin Romine’s throwing out Jose Ramirez just before Edwin Encarnacion homered and Michael Brantley’s hitting into a 4-6-3 double play just before Ramirez tied the score in the fifth with a solo homer. It could have been worse for Kluber, too. He had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth after allowing the Yankees to take a 4-3 lead, but he fanned Romine before Neil Walker hit a liner right to Yonder Alonso at first base that turned into a double play.
Severino allowed nine hits — the most since he was knocked around by the Astros last year on the day All-Star selections were announced. “Maybe I shouldn’t pitch around the All-Star Game,” he said with a laugh.
Severino also struck out just one — whiffing the last batter he faced, Encarnacion, to equal a career low that he had not hit since Sept. 26, 2016, when he was ejected at Toronto after getting only three outs.
“I only struck out one batter today,” said Severino. “I’m not that kind of guy.”
Adam Warren, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman held the Indians without a hit, each working an inning.
After providing the Yankees with another lead, Hicks provided a cushion. He alertly stole third on reliever Oliver Perez’s lengthy delivery — something he said Boone had alerted him to look for — and scored from there when Greg Bird lifted a fly ball to left to put the Yankees ahead by 6-4.
Gardner provided more comfort when he homered off left-hander Tyler Olson in the ninth.
The winning rally was not the first sign of resilience from the Yankees batters on Thursday. The Yankees, trailing 2-0 in the third, evened the score on Gardner’s two-out, two-strike, two-run homer off Kluber. And when the Indians reassumed the lead, 3-2, on Yonder Alonso’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the third, the Yankees answered in the fourth. Gregorius belted a home run to center field to tie the score and Bird put them ahead by 4-3 when he drove home Giancarlo Stanton with a double.
With a comfortable lead, Chapman worked his first inning since leaving Sunday’s game with a sore knee. The first batter he faced was a familiar one — Rajai Davis, whose stunning home run in Game 7 of the World Series tied the game in the eighth inning. This time, Chapman struck him out.