When the word drifted into the Yankees’ clubhouse Monday afternoon that Sonny Gray would be joining their rotation the reaction was swift and furious.
“Guys were really fired up when they heard the news,’’ Chase Headley said. “Obviously they believe in us and gave us what we needed. He is a front-line starting pitcher and we had a little need and they addressed it.’’
How Gray shakes out is yet to be determined, but thanks to Headley’s bat remaining hot, a homer from Aaron Judge and a two-run single from Todd Frazier, the excited Yankees hung a 7-3 loss on the Tigers in front of 39,904 at Yankee Stadium.
With their ninth win in 11 games the 57-47 Yankees remained one-half length ahead of the second-place Red Sox in the AL East.
Manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman didn’t know where Gray or Jaime Garcia — acquired Sunday from Minnesota — would fit into the rotation, but they will join it soon. Inside the clubhouse, Gray is viewed as a front of the rotation starter, but outside some don’t see him as a bona fide No. 1.
Luis Severino allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight in five innings of work Monday in the Yankees’ 7-3 win over the Tigers.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
Whatever he is the Yankees, who started Caleb Smith on Saturday and a fading Jordan Montgomery on Sunday, are banking on big things from the right-hander who was acquired from the A’s for three prospects Monday.
Luis Severino, the Yankees’ current ace, grinded through five innings Monday to get the win. After a 30-pitch first inning when he left the bases loaded by striking out Victor Martinez, it was clear Severino wasn’t going to work deep into the game.
“In the beginning I didn’t have my stuff and didn’t feel comfortable on the mound,’’ said Severino, who allowed a run, four hits, walked three, hit a batter, fanned eight and threw a season-high 116 pitches. He is 8-4, has won three straight and hasn’t lost since July 2 at Houston when he gave up a season high six runs in 5 ¹/₃ innings. He landed awkwardly on his follow through in the first inning and was visited by Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue.
Headley, who went 3-for-4, and has nine hits in his last 23 at-bats (.391), doubled home two runs in the fourth off Michael Fulmer and Frazier followed with a two-run single to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Judge added his 34th homer in the fifth. Clint Frazier tripled in Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh and scored himself on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly.
Ellsbury reached first when drilled in the buttock by Fulmer in a clear case of retaliation for Mikie Mahtook getting hit in the second by Severino and the sixth by a Tommy Kahnle’s 98-mph fastball in the helmet.
Aaron Judge celebrates in the dugout after his fifth-inning home run Monday in the Yankees’ 7-3 win over the Tigers.Paul J. Bereswill
Leading, 7-2, entering the ninth it appeared Jonathan Holder, who worked a scoreless eighth when he fanned two, would close it out. But two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases in the ninth with one out and Girardi called for closer Aroldis Chapman. He traded an out for a run on a grounder and ended the game by striking out James McCann with a 103-mph fastball for his 13th save.
Gray and Garcia will likely debut as Yankees in Cleveland, where the Yankees open a four-game series against the AL Central-leading Indians on Thursday.
Yet, before either threw a pitch, the effect on the Yankees’ clubhouse was substantial. If Gray, and to a lesser degree Garcia, have similar effects on the mound the Yankees might have pulled off season-changing moves.