BOSTON — It didn’t take the Red Sox long to show J.A. Happ that the regular season and postseason are two different animals.
Happ, who dominated the Red Sox in the regular season, was rocked for a three-run home run by J.D. Martinez four batters into his ALDS Game 1 start at Fenway Park on Friday night. He was charged with five runs in two innings-plus and took the loss in Boston’s 5-4 victory.
It was Happ’s first defeat since joining the Yankees in a July 26 trade with the Blue Jays. He had gone 7-0 in 11 starts after the deal.
Happ had a 1.99 ERA in four starts against Boston this season and was 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) against the Red Sox in his career. Fenway Park didn’t spook the lefty, either. He was 5-2, 3.27 in 10 games (nine starts).
None of that mattered in Game 1. Happ lasted two batters into the third inning as the Red Sox gave ace Chris Sale a 5-0 lead and held off the Yankees’ comeback attempt.
Asked what his frustration level was, Happ said: “High.”
He gave up four hits and walked one, and all five baserunners scored.
“My execution wasn’t as sharp as it’s been,” he said. “That was the reason. I always stress trying to get strike one. There were times I wasn’t very good at that tonight. Certainly not going to make any excuses. I just didn’t get it done.”
Happ struck out Mookie Betts to open the bottom of the first inning before Andrew Benintendi singled and stole second on the first pitch to Steve Pearce. Happ walked Pearce on four pitches and fell behind 2-and-0 to Martinez, who along with Betts is an AL MVP candidate.
The 2-and-0 pitch was a down-and-in fastball, and Martinez lined it to leftfield just over the Green Monster for a three-run homer and a 3-0 lead.
“We were trying to get in there,” Happ said. “Just trying to throw a strike. Felt like I threw it to the glove. He put a good swing on it. It was the 2-0 count and the walk before that.”
Happ retired the next two batters and then the side in the second. But manager Aaron Boone must not have like what he was seeing, because he got Chad Green up in the bullpen after Betts led off the third with a double off the wall in left-center.
Benintendi followed with a bunt single and that was it for Happ after 44 pitches (24 strikes).
Boone brought in Green, who gave up a first-pitch RBI single to Pearce to make it 4-0. Benintendi moved to third on Martinez’s long fly to right and scored on Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly to right to make it 5-0.
The Yankees appealed that Benintendi had left third early, but third-base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled that he hadn’t. Boone appeared to ask for a replay review, but that call is not reviewable by replay under baseball’s rules.
Three of the umpires convened to discuss the matter — perhaps to see if anyone else had seen Benintendi leave early — and crew chief Mike Winters signaled “safe” to indicate that no one had.