DETROIT — Luis Severino shivers at the memory of his first start at Comerica Park.
The New York Yankees right-hander made his season debut April 8 last year at Detroit’s home park with the temperature barely above freezing.
“It was the coldest day of my life,” Severino said Tuesday.
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Severino took the loss that afternoon, allowing three runs on 10 hits in five innings. He won’t have to worry about his fingers going numb when he takes the mound Wednesday in the second contest of a three-game series against the Tigers.
The temperature will be 40 degrees warmer, and he will bring the heat of a fastball that averages in the upper 90s.
Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA) has won five of his past six starts, including his last outing when he held the New York Mets to one run, which was unearned, in 6 1/3 innings while striking out nine.
“I was able to get ahead in the count,” Severino said. “I threw the first pitch for a strike. That’s important for me. All my pitches were working — fastball, changeup, slider.”
Severino bounced back from a poor outing against the Boston Red Sox, when he surrendered 10 runs (eight earned) in 4 1/3 innings on Aug. 12.
“Me and my pitching coach (Larry Rothschild), we talk about what wasn’t working that day and we work in the bullpen,” said Severino, who is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in two career starts against Detroit. “If my fastball is not working the day before, we work on that. Or if my changeup wasn’t working, we work on that. When I pitch bad, I want to fix what I did wrong.”
The Yankees won the first game of the Detroit series 13-4 on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi tweaked his lineup, moving Gary Sanchez to the No. 3 spot and dropping Aaron Judge to cleanup. The move paid immediate dividends.
Sanchez hit a pair of two-run homers, and Judge didn’t strike out for the first time in 38 games, snapping his major-league-record-tying streak for consecutive games with at least one whiff.
“Sanchie’s been swinging extremely well, and I thought I’d put him in front of Judge (on Tuesday) and see if we can get a lot of production from those two together again,” Girardi said.
Severino will be opposed by Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA), who was rocked in his past two starts. He surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 frames vs. the Minnesota Twins in his previous start.
Zimmermann made a drastic move — literally — in the final two innings against the Dodgers. He switched from the third base side of the pitching rubber to the first base side. Zimmermann said afterward he felt as if he were “throwing to a different planet.”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, a catcher during his major league career, said it is unusual for a pitcher to switch sides in midstream.
“It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s not unheard of,” he said. “Some guys actually do move from one side of the rubber to the other on a regular basis during the course of the game, depending on whether a right-handed or left-handed hitter is up.”
The good news for Zimmermann is that he has fared well against the Yankees. He has a 3-0 record and 1.33 ERA in four outings against them. He tossed seven shutout innings against New York on Aug. 2 at Yankee Stadium.
Which side of the rubber he will work from Wednesday is an unknown element.
“I think he was just trying to find something that would make him more effective,” Ausmus said. “It changes the angle and the ball comes out of your hand (differently) to the hitter. He was looking for something to help him get outs, quite frankly.”