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Yanks' win streak ends in finale of electric series

Happ stung by long ball, allows season-high eight runs to Astros
@BryanHoch
June 23, 2019

NEW YORK -- The smiles had not yet faded from Mariano Rivera's unforgettable Old-Timers' Day debut when J.A. Happ reared back for his third pitch, a slider that Jose Altuve dispatched toward the second deck of the left-field grandstand. The afternoon did not improve much from there. Happ surrendered three

NEW YORK -- The smiles had not yet faded from Mariano Rivera's unforgettable Old-Timers' Day debut when J.A. Happ reared back for his third pitch, a slider that Jose Altuve dispatched toward the second deck of the left-field grandstand.

The afternoon did not improve much from there. Happ surrendered three home runs, including Tyler White's fourth-inning grand slam, as the club's eight-game winning streak was snapped in a 9-4 loss to the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Box score

"The soft stuff got through and the hard stuff went over the fence," Happ said. "Not a whole lot went right today. I think the tendency is to think you've got to change something radically, but I don't think that's the case. I think it's stay the course and keep working. The next one should be better."

Coming off a solid effort against the Rays in which he was able to keep the ball in the park, Happ was rocked for a season-high eight runs and tied his career high by allowing 11 hits over four-plus innings.

"As a fly-ball pitcher, the key for him is being precise," manager Aaron Boone said. "That's what he's been good at throughout his career and when he's been good throughout his career, and this year for us too. When you miss a little bit ... those fly balls can hurt you when you make mistakes with it."

Happ's eight runs allowed matched the total permitted by Yankees starters during the eight-game win streak, during which they compiled a 1.54 ERA.

"I tried to do some things that aren't a strength of mine," Happ said. "I was trying to compete, but I think I've got to compete with my best stuff. I think today was a game I'll possibly try to flush. We had a good series and obviously were hoping to get a sweep. I obviously put us in a bad spot, but you try to move forward from there."

Yordan Alvarez cracked a two-run shot that chased Happ in the fifth, helping Houston snap its seven-game losing skid. Happ has allowed 20 homers this year, which ranks fifth in the Majors.

"The home run has been a problem for a lot of people this season, myself included," Happ said. "I think ideally you try to limit those to solo shots and you should be OK. Today I wasn't able to do that."

Yuli Gurriel greeted reliever Luis Cessa with a solo homer as Happ was charged with his first loss since May 4 at Minnesota, having gone 6-0 with a 4.29 ERA over that span. It was the lone run permitted by Cessa, who mopped up with four solid innings.

The few bright spots of the afternoon -- at least, after Rivera legged out an inside-the-park homer, fired strikes from the mound and made a catch in center field -- were provided by DJ LeMahieu, who hit a three-run homer off Justin Verlander as part of a three-hit performance.

LeMahieu's fifth-inning blast marked the 26th consecutive contest in which the Yankees have hit at least one home run, eclipsing a franchise mark set in 1941. The Yankees are one shy of the Major League record, set by the 2002 Texas Rangers.

"We still had a chance. We kept fighting," said the Yanks' Luke Voit. "It's sometimes tough to come back from that deficit."

With Houston avoiding the sweep, the Yankees completed their regular-season series against the Astros with three wins to show for seven games.

Brett Gardner had remarked after Saturday's victory that the electric atmosphere reminded him of the 2017 American League Championship Series, and Boone indicated that he would not be surprised if the clubs renewed acquaintances at a later date.

"We may again cross paths, playing for a lot more," Boone said. "Anytime you're up against a team like that, you've got your work cut out for you. We always feel like we match up well with other clubs. If we're playing our best, I love our chances, but you know you've got to bring it against these guys."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.