ST. LOUIS — So much for momentum.
Luis Severino entered Saturday coming off his best start of the season and the Yankees were hopeful that would be the beginning of a strong stretch for the right-hander.
Instead, Severino returned to getting shelled, giving up nine runs across four-plus innings as the Yankees lost to the Cardinals, 11-4, in the first game of a doubleheader, which was twice delayed by storms at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals (34-47) clobbered Severino for nine hits, including a pair of home runs, before knocking him out of the game with two on and no out in the fifth inning.
Two of the nine runs he allowed were unearned, because of a costly throwing error by third baseman Oswaldo Cabrera, but the right-hander still allowed plenty of loud contact — including seven balls hit at 95 mph or harder.
The only relief the Yankees (45-37) got in Game 1 was torrential downpours and winds entering the area before the bottom of the seventh inning, which led to a lengthy delay of 2 hours and 19 minutes before play resumed.
They got one more inning in before the skies opened up again — just as Josh Donaldson ran in from the bullpen to make his first career pitching appearance — leading to another delay of 18 minutes.
Donaldson still pitched the bottom of the eighth when play resumed, retiring the side on 11 pitches.
In his last start before Saturday, Severino threw six shutout innings against a dangerous Rangers lineup, which had manager Aaron Boone saying before this game, “I think he’s got a chance to go on a great run here for us.”
It proved to be wishful thinking, at least in the short term.
After his latest beatdown, Severino now owns a 6.30 ERA through his first eight starts of the season, the beginning of which was delayed by a strained lat in spring training.
He also has given up 10 home runs across 40 innings.
As hard as the Cardinals hit Severino, the Yankees were equally punchless against Jack Flaherty.
The right-hander cruised through six shutout innings in which he gave up just four singles.
The Yankees had scored 21 runs on 24 hits over their last two games against the Athletics, but began this series quietly before scoring three runs in the ninth.
The obliteration began in the third inning after Severino had allowed just a walk through the first two frames.
With two on and one out, Paul Goldschmidt drilled a low slider into the Cardinals bullpen for a three-run homer.
Then, after Severino walked Nolan Gorman, Nolan Arenado hit a grounder to third base. Cabrera fielded it cleanly but his throw to second base was off-target and ended up in right field.
The Cardinals took advantage.
After the runners tagged up and moved to second and third on a foul fly-out to right field, Alec Burleson and Paul DeJong delivered back-to-back RBI singles to make it 5-0.
In the fourth inning, Lars Nootbaar legged out a double before Nolan Gorman demolished a two-run homer that traveled 415 feet to right field for a 7-0 Cardinals lead.
In need of some length with a doubleheader on tap, the Yankees trotted Severino back out for the fifth inning, but he allowed the first two batters to reach on a double and his third walk of the day, at which point Boone went to the bullpen.
Matt Krook came on and gave up a single that loaded the bases before Andrew Knizner cleared them with a double to the left field corner, making it 10-0.
Krook, called up earlier in the day as the 27th man, went on to give up one more run before the damage was done.
Cabrera made sure the Yankees were not shut out when he hit an RBI single in the seventh inning off reliever James Naile to make it 11-1.
In the ninth, Jake Bauers added a two-run home run to bring the Yankees within 11-4.