NEW YORK — If he was surprised, Yankees manager Aaron Boone picked up J.A. Happ after only 64 pitches, you were not alone.
"I just wanted to make sure he remembered we had a doubleheader today," Happ said when asked his reaction when Boone surprisingly threw it with one out in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Orioles in the first Two games on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
"But he did, and he has his reasons." Of course, the four boys who came in were as unpleasant as the ones I've seen all year. They were disgusting, but at the same time, I would have preferred to stay there. It worked today, and I hope we have the second. "
Happ had problems at first, gave up his second homer and the fourth hit of the day when designated hitter Renato Nunez led the fourth with a single shot to tie the game with 3. But after that he improved, retiring six of the next seven batters . before Boone picked him up with one out in the sixth with the Yankees going up two runs, bringing right-hander Adam Ottavino.
"I think he wanted to stay, and rightly so, I feel like he started having a bit more rhythm there, and I wanted to keep knowing that we had two games," Boone said. "But I felt that this was a place in the order in which We wanted to not let him go away and stop the game right there, and we were willing not to abuse our boys in that situation, he wanted the ball, obviously, and I would not expect anything less. "
The plan worked. Ottavino, Tommy Kaehnle and Zach Britton combined for 3 2/3 relief innings on a hit with five strikeouts before closer Aroldis Chapman earned his 10th save of the season in the ninth. Boone also suggested that he wanted to get Happ out before facing right fielder Trey Mancini, who hit the first home run in Baltimore, and Nunez for the third time. That's understandable, considering that the duo is hitting an 8-for-11 combination with a double, four homers and seven RBIs against Happ this spring.
But Happ, who said he did not expect Boone to come looking for him after he struck out left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. to open the sixth, wanted to stay.
"In a way, you are taught and built to want to stay there, especially on a day like today," he said. "But, again, I think we can probably handle it, and we'll find out (in Game 2).
Happ said that sometimes he had to declare his case to Boone before leaving. But the decision of the manager was decided, although he recognized that it was a difficult decision.
"Oh, yes, absolutely," Boone said when asked if there was a temptation to leave Happ. "But I felt that, at that moment, we were ready to put the piece together like we did, and I felt that with that part of the lineup, we really wanted Otto in that place in a tight game."
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