PHILADELPHIA >> There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about Luis Severino’s place in the game right now. The Yankees pitcher is on a roll, notching his major league leading 12th victory Tuesday night in a 6-0 pinstriping of the feeble Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
In so doing, Severino washed away the hype of a meeting of ace-level starters in this game. Jake Arrieta was no match for the 24-year-old Dominican dynamo, who scattered six hits, walked none and struck out nine Phillies for his 12th win against two losses in only 17 starts.
Of course, he has that wonderful slugging support system behind him, one that on this night was led by supporting cast members Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius. Not that their home runs were unexpected, since Hicks — whose 411-foot bomb to center came on the third pitch of the game — and Gregorius now have 11 and 15 homers, respectively.
On the Yankees, home run power seems to be a job mandate.
The Phillies, of course, can flash some offensive firepower on occasion, just not enough lately, and certainly not off a pitcher like Severino, who hasn’t been touched for more than three earned runs in his last 14 starts.
“He was as dirty as you could possibly be,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Severino. “A lot of our guys were talking about the life on the fastball. Difficult to catch up to. We knew it was going to be on top of them, but it just had a little extra life to it.”
All of that aside, the odds were stacked against the struggling Arrieta in quite another way. ... The guy just can’t catch a break being in front of a team that seems to have problems catching and throwing balls behind him.
Arrieta had an ugly month of June. But look a little closer and you see that of the 47 runs he’s allowed this season, 14 of them have been unearned.
He let his feeling on the matter be heard after a game in which then-fledgling shortstop Scott Kingery had a costly misplay, Arrieta calling him out after a 6-1 loss June 3 in San Francisco. Since then, too much has gone wrong with the Phillies’ defense and Arrieta and the combination of both.
In Milwaukee June 15, another Kingery error was part of the damage of what became a 13-2 Arrieta loss. Of the eight runs Arrieta was charged with in that game, only four were earned.
In Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees, Arrieta went just five innings, allowing six runs, with only three earned. That stemmed from a play in which a tailor-made double play ball to Cesar Hernandez was ruined when his backhand flip toward Kingery went wide. The Hernandez error opened the door for a three-run Yankee third inning, all of them unearned.
When that play was brought up to Arrieta later, he shrugged off the thought that it was anybody’s fault but his own. He also committed a faux pas that ... maybe ... he’ll laugh about later.
“Scott didn’t give up nine hits today,” Arrieta said, “I did.”
Kingery didn’t commit the error, either. But little matter, because Arrieta wasn’t laying blame anywhere else. Asked what his primary problem has been during a June in which he went 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA, he said, “Putting the ball where I should put it. The ball’s getting hit. That’s it. Making mistakes. Too many mistakes.”
Then again, Arrieta was fairly aggressive earlier in the month in his critical assessments of himself, team play and especially the Kapler-favored shifts the Phillies so frequently kick into.
But Kapler shrugged off the suggestion that Arrieta’s tough post-game talk in San Francisco has created a sense of tightness among his infielders when Arrieta pitches.
“I don’t (think that),” Kapler said. “In particular, I don’t see Scott and Cesar as playing anything but loose behind all of our pitchers. We’ve seen that consistently with Scott and Cesar, solid on defense all season long. One moment does not make the man.”
Arrieta pointed out one more loss doesn’t make the team or the pitcher, either.
“You can make excuses but it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to go out there, get guys out, minimize damage and move past it,” Arrieta said. As for the Hernandez error, he added, “It ended up not necessarily making that much of a difference. Severino was really good tonight and we just got outplayed, all the way around for the second straight game.”