JA Happ dominant in winning Yankees debut, 6-3 over Royals
NEW YORK (AP) — J.A. Happ had made eight previous starts at Yankee Stadium plus a relief appearance in the final game of the 2009 World Series. This was different.
“It was kind of weird looking down and seeing the pinstripes on me,” he said, “but I’m happy to get used to it.”
James Anthony Happ made the midseason impact the Yankees hoped for, pitching one-run ball over six innings to win his New York debut 6-3 over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
“It’s a significant dude to the rotation,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in California surfer-speak, “that helps in not just the days he pitches, hopefully, but also just makes our staff and our bullpen as a whole a little bit better,”
Three days after New York acquired the 35-year-old left-hander from Toronto for infielder Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney, Happ took a shutout into the fifth before Salvador Perez’s opposite-field home run into the Yankees bullpen in right-center. Happ (11-6) allowed three hits, struck out two and walked one, and the first-time All-Star ended a four-start winless streak.
Happ had been 4-1 as a visitor in the Bronx. He threw four-seam fastballs on 64 of 96 pitches against the Royals, including his first 13 of the third inning. He mixed in 12 changeups, seven sliders, two curveballs plus 11 two-seam sinking fastballs — all from the third inning on.
“His fastball definitely gets on you, and he likes to pitch in on hitters,” catcher Austin Romine said. “It was weird. We almost felt like I caught him before, he was so much on the same page.”
New York (67-37) won consecutive games for the first time since July 11-2 and remained 5½ games behind AL East-leading Boston. The Yankees sought a boost similar to the one provided by David Cone, who made his Yankees debut exactly 23 years earlier after his acquisition from Toronto and became a key cog in the team that reached that year’s playoffs and won four World Series titles in the following five seasons. Happ joined a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray.
“I feel like in a lot of ways he’s been underrated over the years,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s more in that upper tier than people want to acknowledge.”
Aaron Hicks hit a two-run homer in the first off the screen attached to the right-field foul pole , a drive off Burch Smith (1-2). Hicks also doubled, singled and walked.
New York took three over four against woeful Kansas City (32-73), which traded star third baseman Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee on Friday for prospects.
Brett Phillips, one of those prospects, started in his Kansas City debut and made a leaping catch at the top of the right-field wall to rob Romine of a possible three-run homer in the fourth. Phillips’ eyes were closed as the ball landed in his glove.
“Did I? Wow, that’s impressive,” Phillips said.
Hunter Dozier homered off Chad Green in the seventh and Rosell Herrera went deep against David Robertson leading off the eighth, the first home run of his big league career . Aroldis Chapman, pitching on consecutive days for the first time since July 1-3, struck out three straight batters for his 28th save in 29 chances , his 20th in a row.
At the time of the trade, Happ and the Blue Jays were in Chicago, where he lives with wife Morgan, 2½-year-old son J.J. and 8-month-old daughter Bella. Morgan flew to Toronto on Saturday morning to pick up some of her husband’s belongings, leaving the kids with the grandparents, and flew out the same day. The kids will join them in New York on Tuesday.
Life has been a whirlwind for the Happs.
“It was a little surreal out there,” he said. “but a lot of fun.”
A crowd of 46,192 was New York’s 20th home sellout, matching 2011 for the most at the new Yankee Stadium.
Torres and Andujar on Saturday became the first different Yankees rookies to hit cleanup in the starting lineup of consecutive games since Bill Robinson and Steve Whitaker in a doubleheader at Chicago on Aug. 22, 1967.
New York traded LHP Caleb Frare to the Chicago White Sox for $1.5 million in international signing bonus pool allocation, which raised its total to $7,502,600 from an original $5,002,600. The 25-year-old is 4-1 with a 0.81 ERA and five saves of 31 games for Double-A Trenton this year and one for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. On Saturday the Yankees obtained $1 million in allocation along with 1B Luke Voit from St. Louis for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos.
Royals: OF Brian Goodwin injured his left groin running the bases in the seventh inning Saturday night and a DL stint is possible.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (6-9, 4.70) opens a series at the White Sox on Tuesday.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-2, 4.09) starts Tuesday’s series opener against Baltimore and RHP Yefry Ramirez (1-3, 3.49). Tanaka is 6-0 in 12 starts since an April 17 loss at Miami and is coming off a three-hit shutout at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
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