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Happ's struggles continue in loss to White Sox

Starter allows six runs in four-plus innings; Gardner lifts homer, LeMahieu continues tear
@BryanHoch
April 12, 2019

NEW YORK -- The pinpoint control that made J.A. Happ such a fantastic second-half addition last season has been absent through his first three starts of the new season, and the Yankees are challenging the veteran left-hander to iron out those mechanical flaws as quickly as possible. Happ surrendered an

NEW YORK -- The pinpoint control that made J.A. Happ such a fantastic second-half addition last season has been absent through his first three starts of the new season, and the Yankees are challenging the veteran left-hander to iron out those mechanical flaws as quickly as possible.

Happ surrendered an early lead as he was battered for six runs and nine hits over four-plus innings by the White Sox on Friday evening, including a game-tying Yonder Alonso home run, as the Yankees lost their fourth straight game -- a rain-shortened, 9-6 decision at Yankee Stadium.

“Today is a game that we should have won,” said Happ, who was given a three-run cushion after two innings. “We battled, we were ready to play and we had the lead. I take a lot of pride in not giving those up very often. I'm obviously frustrated that I did."

The 36-year-old was 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the Blue Jays last July, prompting the Yankees to re-sign him in the offseason. But Happ stumbled in his lone postseason start against the Red Sox last October; the early returns of ‘19 have been subpar as well, as he owns an 8.76 ERA with four homers allowed through 12 1/3 innings.

"We've got to start getting some innings from our starters,” manager Aaron Boone said. “You run those guys into the ground if you're constantly going to the whip in the fourth or fifth inning, which we've had to do a little more than we'd like."

After Alonso knocked a run-scoring single in the first inning, sizzling-hot DJ LeMahieu answered with a two-run single off Chicago starter Lucas Giolito. The Yankees padded that advantage in the second as Austin Romine stroked a run-scoring single and Aaron Judge lifted a sacrifice fly.

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Happ gave back a pair of runs in the fourth, issuing two walks before Leury Garcia pounded a two-run double down the right-field line, trimming the Yankees’ lead to a run. Brett Gardner poked his third homer of the season into the short right-field porch, but Happ would give that back and more.

"I'm working on some things to try and figure that out,” Happ said. “Really, more than anything, I'm trying to clear my head and attack, and be aggressive. There's times where I've gotten hurt not doing that."

Alonso blasted a two-run shot over the wall in right-center, tying the game, and Happ allowed another hit before Jonathan Holder entered in relief. Baseball's No. 3-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, Eloy Jimenez greeted the right-hander with a go-ahead, two-run homer to Monument Park in center field, his first Major League homer, then added a seventh-inning solo blast off Chad Green.

"[Jimenez] hurt us with balls in the middle of the plate,” Boone said. “He showed his power. A couple of pitches looked like they were right down the middle and he didn't miss them, to the big part of the field. They were mistakes that he was able to capitalize on."

Play was halted at 9:51 p.m. ET in the top of the seventh, following back-to-back homers by Jimenez and James McCann off Green.

The game was called after a 41-minute delay, with that announcement being made as general manager Brian Cashman was holding a press conference in Yankee Stadium’s basement level, discussing the latest developments with injured reliever Dellin Betances after placing catcher Gary Sánchez on the injured list earlier in the afternoon.

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"See? Everything is going my way right now,” Cashman said. “This game can humble you quick. This game is capable of bringing the best to their knees and question if they're good enough anymore. … I was hoping that tonight we could solve that and start changing the narrative. Instead, we've added to it with more injury news and bad play. Tomorrow is a new day."

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