Happ shaky: 'It’s not characteristic of me'

August 6th, 2020

Left-hander simply couldn’t throw strikes on Wednesday afternoon and it proved costly as the Yankees lost to the Phillies, 11-7, in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. The loss broke the Yankees’ seven-game win streak.

It was a game that saw the Yankees serve as the “home” team, as it was a makeup game from Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The game was postponed due to the forecast of severe inclement weather from Tropical Storm Isaias. (According to the rulebook, if a game is played at one team’s home grounds, then that team is in fact the home team whether it bats first or second.) The Phillies were the home team for the second game.

In the first game, Happ was given a 3-0 lead, thanks to a two-run homer by Brett Gardner in the second inning off Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler. But then, in the top of the third inning, the Phillies scored four runs led by a two-run homer from Bryce Harper to start the rally.

Suddenly, Happ kept missing the plate. Three of the next four hitters he faced drew walks, forcing in a run. Jean Segura then scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice by Roman Quinn.

Yankees manager Aaron Boon felt Happ had some mechanical issues on the mound.

“It seems like [Happ] had a hard time getting the ball to the arm side,” Boone said. “I thought his mix of pitches and stuff looked crisp enough. … I thought the slider and changeup were all right. … It looked like he had a hard time getting to the arm side with command. He was probably nibbling a couple of times. … Obviously, that was the difference.”

This is the second consecutive game in which Happ couldn’t go at least five innings. There were times in the game when Happ was painting the corners, but the calls didn’t go his way.

“I have to make [the Phillies] put the ball in play. I felt like when I was doing that, things were going good,” Happ said. “The contact wasn’t too hard. I have to force the issue better than I did today. … It’s not characteristic of me with the walks. It’s getting back to staying aggressive. I thought I was very close a lot of the time. But I wasn’t able to get back into the count. Little things happen. I just hurt myself today.”

What does Happ have to do to get better in his next start?

“I was trying to get some breaking balls in there early and not finishing them. I think it’s just cleaning that up. That would be my plan,” Happ said.

Things got worse for the Yankees in the sixth inning. The Phillies batted around and scored six runs off right-hander Nick Nelson. It took Luis Cessa to stop the bleeding when he got Jay Bruce to ground out to end the inning.

The Yankees staged a comeback in the seventh, with clearing the bases on a three-run home run to narrow the gap to a four-run deficit. If only the Yankees had two more innings to play with.

“It’s a different game once it gets to where it was,” Boone said. “I’m really glad, with the competitive bats we continue to have there.”