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Happ first Yankees pitcher to pinch hit since 1970

Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ works against the San

Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ works against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 27, 2019, in San Francisco.  Credit: AP/Ben Margot

SAN FRANCISCO — Two more injuries on Sunday caused the Yankees to do something they hadn’t done since 1970: They sent up a pitcher to pinch hit.

It occurred in the seventh inning of their 11-5 win over the Giants when, with his bench short after the departure of DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela — only backup catcher Austin Romine and backup first baseman Mike Ford remained — Aaron Boone had JA Happ pinch hit for Domingo German. Happ, relatively proficient with a bat from his time in the National League with the Phillies and Astros (who then were in the NL), grounded to second.

“Just felt like, down to two position players and a pretty low-leverage situation with two outs and nobody on . . . If we would have had a runner on, obviously we would have gone with Ford there,” Boone said. “Just holding the position player at that point, so if we needed something late, we had the right-left option still between Ford and Ro [Romine], especially with all their lefties down there [in the bullpen].”

According to baseball researcher Katie Sharp, it marked the first time since April 22, 1970, that the Yankees sent up a pitcher to pinch hit, with Mel Stottlemyre batting for Steve Hamilton in the top of the 16th in a game at Washington (Stottlemyre popped to third).

How much advance notice did Happ have? “Not a ton, but it doesn’t really matter,” he said with a smile. “I went down there and I was able to see a few balls in the [indoor batting] cage to bunt. That’s what I thought I might do. But it’s fine. I’m happy to do that.” 

Streaking Voit

Luke Voit went 3-for-4, and his first-inning walk extended his MLB-best on-base streak to 39 games, continuing the second-longest on-base streak by a Yankee since the start of 2005 (Mark Teixeira reached in 42 straight games from June 6-July 26, 2010). Voit, who is hitting .283 with a .935 OPS, has been using one of Miguel Andujar’s bats since the last homestand.

“Because it has so many hits in them,” Voit said. “I was actually swinging his bat last year, too. It’s just a comfortable bat.”

Voit was 6-for-12 with a homer, a double, six RBIs, two walks and five runs in the series. He has 25 RBIs in 28 games.

Gary Sanchez is batting only .232 and has only 13 hits, but eight are homers. He has 18 RBIs in 15 games.

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