Wright's Knucklers Stifle Yankees As Ortiz, Red Sox Win 2-1
Steven Wright had the secret to success against that torrid Yankees lineup.
Throw it soft and slow.
Wright handcuffed New York hitters with his steady supply of floating knuckleballs, and David Ortiz launched a colossal home run for the Boston Red Sox in their 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.
"Given this lineup in this ballpark," Red Sox manager John Farrell said, "he was outstanding from start to finish."
A costly throwing error by third baseman Chase Headley helped spoil the debut of prized Yankees pitching prospect Luis Severino, who yielded only two hits over five impressive innings. He struck out seven and walked none.
"That young kid, he's got good stuff, man. I think he's going to be pretty good," Ortiz said. "I think at the end of the game he was missing location a little bit, but other than that, his stuff is very explosive."
Koji Uehara retired pinch-hitter Brian McCann with two on for his 24th save in 26 attempts.
Alejandro De Aza hit an RBI double with two outs in the second - immediately following Headley's 18th error. Ortiz connected on a 96 mph 2-0 fastball leading off the fourth, a drive that landed more than halfway up the elevated concrete bleachers in right field.
"We don't leave New York without David probably going deep one time. He just put a beautiful swing on the pitch," Farrell said. "But there's no question we'll see Severino a lot in years to come, and that's a good-looking young pitcher."
The last-place Red Sox snapped an eight-game road losing streak behind Wright (5-4). He struck out nine in eight innings, setting career highs in both categories for the second consecutive start.
Tossing his 74-75 mph knuckler to both sides of the plate, the 30-year-old righty allowed just four hits - including Carlos Beltran's leadoff homer in the seventh.
"Today it just was moving a little bit more than it has in the past," Wright said.
Uehara worked around a single and a walk in the ninth. McCann, who flied out to center, did not start because of a stiff left knee.
It wasn't the first time the Yankees had trouble with Wright, who entered with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings against them. He worked five innings of relief in a 19-inning victory at Yankee Stadium on April 10.
This time, he faced a New York team that's been on quite a tear at the plate. The AL East leaders scored 90 runs and hit 21 homers in their previous 10 games.
"That's about as good as you can throw a knuckleball," Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira said. "You don't see many of them, but he had a good one."
Severino (0-1) threw 94 pitches, flashing a 97 mph fastball and sharp slider. The 21-year-old righty began the season in Double-A, then went 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A - where he did not give up a homer in 61 1/3 innings.
The Yankees said Severino became the first pitcher in American League history to give up no more than two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in his major league debut.
"He's got poise. I told you I didn't think his surroundings would affect him a whole lot. We saw that in spring training," manager Joe Girardi said. "I definitely think it's a positive for him and what he could mean for us moving forward."
New York is batting .185 (17 for 92) against Wright and fellow knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays this season. The Yankees are scheduled to face Dickey on Friday night.
Red Sox: Farrell said he had no update on pitching prospect Brian Johnson, who went on the minor league disabled list Monday with a sore left elbow. Johnson has made one major league start, taking the loss July 21 at Houston. ... There is no target date for the return of OF Mookie Betts (concussion)," Farrell said. ... RHP Rick Porcello (right triceps strain) is on the disabled list, retroactive to July 30. "Shouldn't be a long absence," Farrell said.
Yankees: McCann had an MRI that showed inflammation around the medial collateral ligament on the inside of his left knee. He hopes two days of rest and steady treatment will be enough to get him back in the starting lineup. John Ryan Murphy was behind the plate for Severino's debut. "I was definitely looking forward to catching him," McCann said.
Pablo Sandoval doubled twice for Boston, extending his hitting streak against the Yankees to 13 games dating to September 2013. ... Ortiz has homered off 34 Yankees pitchers, more than any other player in big league history, the team said in citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Ortiz also scored his 1,095th run with the Red Sox, passing Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr for fifth place in franchise history.
Tampa Bay claimed outfielder Daniel Nava off waivers from the Red Sox, who cut the switch-hitter last week.
Red Sox rookie left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3) starts the series finale Thursday night against LHP CC Sabathia (4-8).