HOUSTON — J.A. Happ, reluctant reliever, worked out of a 10th-inning jam not of his own making in Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night.
After the Yankees failed to score in the 11th, Happ took the mound for the bottom half. As the ninth Yankees pitcher of the night, Happ was going to be asked to give the team some length as long as the game continued.
That proved unnecessary. Happ threw one pitch in the 11th. Carlos Correa launched it into Minute Maid Park’s short rightfield porch to give the Astros a series-tying 3-2 victory.
“Trying to elevate a fastball, which I did,” Happ said. “He put a good swing on it and got it.”
It was the 35th home run Happ has allowed in 2019. The 34 he allowed during the regular season were the fifth-highest total in the American League.
Happ has made it clear he prefers starting. He did it 30 times in the regular season. His last appearance before the playoffs was out of the bullpen and he pitched a scoreless inning in Game 1 of the ALDS.
His appearance in the 10th was necessitated because Jonathan Loaisiga walked the only two batters he faced after CC Sabathia retired his only batter. Happ struck out Yordan Alvarez and got Yuli Gurriel to fly out to left to send the game to the 11th.
The night became a bullpen game for the Yankees once manager Aaron Boone lifted James Paxton with one out in the third inning and the Astros looking to add to a 1-0 lead with runners on first and second.
Chad Green got out of the inning and then pitched into the fifth. By that time the Yankees had taken a 2-1 lead on Aaron Judge’s fourth-inning home run off Justin Verlander.
Green struck out Kyle Tucker to open the fifth. Boone then called on Adam Ottavino, who gave up a first-pitch home run by George Springer on a crushable slider in the middle of the plate. That tied it at 2-2.
“Obviously, not trying to go right there,” Ottavino said. “More down and away, borderline strike. I was expecting a swing. I think it just came out a little early. Not ideal.”
Neither was the outcome for the Yankees, who were hoping to steal Game 2 and head back to the Bronx with a 2-0 series lead.
“We had a good opportunity, obviously, to win that game,” Ottavino said. “Frustrating because we were pretty close to having it. Let it slip a little bit.”