Happ wins 5th straight decision, Yankees beat Jays 6-2
TORONTO (AP) — With Dallas Keuchel off the market, Yankees manager Aaron Boone isn’t sweating the state of his rotation. Not with the way J.A. Happ has pitched lately.
Happ pitched seven strong innings to win his fifth straight decision, Aaron Hicks and Gio Urshela homered, and New York beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 Thursday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
New York’s victory wrapped up about an hour after reports emerged that Keuchel had come off the free agent market. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that Keuchel and the Atlanta Braves are near agreement on a one-year contract that would pay the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner about $13 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the agreement had not been finalized.
Boone said the Yankees had been in talks with Keuchel, but he insisted New York had enough pitching to win without him.
“The season is a long one, there’s lots of things that need to unfold,” Boone said. “But we have the guys in that room, absolutely, to be elite.”
DJ LeMahieu had three hits and two RBIs, and the Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak, their first since early April.
Happ (6-3) allowed one run and four hits, walked none and struck out four.
“We need those kind of outings,” Boone said. “He’s put a few good ones in a row together.”
It was Happ’s first start in Toronto since the Blue Jays traded him to the Yankees last July 26.
“I kind of had a lot of emotion tonight so I was trying to be as methodical as I could,” said Happ, calling it “special” to return to the city where he spent parts of six seasons.
New York has won nine times in Happ’s past 10 starts.
“Having him out there get in a groove, get in a good rhythm, has been clutch for our team,” Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin said. “I’m glad he’s a part of this.”
Eric Sogard ended Happ’s shutout bid with a leadoff homer in the sixth, his fifth.
Chad Green pitched the eighth but left after the first three batters reached in the ninth. Aroldis Chapman came on and got Teoscar Hernández to ground into a double play, then ended it by getting Freddy Galvis to line out. Chapman earned his 18th save in 19 opportunities.
LeMahieu is batting a major league-best .491 (26 for 53) with runners in scoring position. He’s 9 for his last 16 in such situations.
The Blue Jays were seeking their first three-game winning streak since sweeping a home series against Oakland from April 26-28.
New York opened the scoring with a four-run second against struggling Blue Jays right-hander Edwin Jackson. The spurt started when Thairo Estrada reached on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whose throw to first struck Estrada in the helmet. Estrada was checked and remained in the game.
Maybin singled, LeMahieu hit an RBI double and Hicks followed with a three-run homer, his third.
Urshela hit a leadoff blast in the fourth, his fourth. Three batters later, LeMahieu chased Jackson with an RBI single.
Jackson (0-4) allowed six runs, two earned, in 3 1/3 innings, losing his fourth straight start. Jackson decreased his ERA to 11.90 after allowing 10 runs in his previous outing at Colorado.
“I’m not finding a way to make pitches in big situations when I have a chance,” Jackson said. “I’m not getting the job done.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo said the Blue Jays will discuss whether Jackson makes his next scheduled start.
Yankees: SS Gleyber Torres (left shoulder) was held out of the lineup but was available off the bench. Boone said Torres could sit Friday, too. ... SS Didi Gregorius is expected to be activated off the injured list Friday and will be in the lineup against Cleveland. Gregorius has not played this season after having Tommy John surgery last October. Estrada was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster. ... RHP Luis Severino (right shoulder) made 50 throws from 60 feet. He did the same Monday. ... OF Aaron Judge (strained left oblique) resumed on-field batting practice Thursday at New York’s spring training facility in Tampa. ... Boone said Giancarlo Stanton (left biceps strain, left shoulder) is “very close” to beginning a rehab assignment.
Blue Jays: RHP David Phelps (elbow surgery) pitched a scoreless inning at Class A Dunedin on Wednesday, his first rehab appearance. Phelps has not pitched in the majors since 2017.
The stadium’s retractable roof was open for the first time this season, matching the latest opening date in its 30-year history. The Blue Jays didn’t play under open skies at home until June 6 in 2001.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (9-1, 3.66) pitches on five days rest as he starts the opener of a three-game series at Cleveland. RHP Zach Plesac (0-1, 1.46) starts for the Indians.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (3-7, 2.84) starts the opener of the three-game series against Arizona. Stroman has a 2.25 ERA in his past four starts. RHP Merrill Kelly (5-6, 4.41) starts for the Diamondbacks.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this story.