J.A. Happ seemed to be the perfect choice to start Game 1 of the AL Division Series for the New York Yankees in Boston.
The veteran left-hander had excellent numbers against the Yankees’ biggest rivals, and manager Aaron Boone was counting on him to neutralize a Red Sox lineup that produced some of the best offensive statistics in the majors this season.
Happ went 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this year and entered 8-4 with 2.98 ERA against them during his career.
That was one reason the Yankees traded for him in July and perhaps at least part of the reason why Boone held him back in favor of Luis Severino in the wild-card game Wednesday against Oakland.
Instead, Happ put the Yankees in a big hole.
Happ lasted just two-plus innings in Friday night’s 5-4 loss, giving up five runs and four hits, including a homer. That gave Boston’s beleaguered bullpen the cushion it needed to stave off New York’s late comeback attempt.
The Red Sox went 74-15 this season when scoring first and 85-24 when they homered. They are 80-12 when they score at least five runs.
Happ’s troubles started at the outset.
He struck out Boston leadoff man Mookie Betts before giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi and walk to Steve Pearce. J.D. Martinez laced a three-run homer that just cleared the top of the Green Monster in left field.
Happ retired Boston in order in the second before being pulled in the third after Betts led off with a double off the Green Monster, followed by a bunt single from Benintendi. Both scored when reliever Chad Green allowed an RBI single to Steve Pearce and Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly.
Source: The Associated Press