BALTIMORE — It’s become like clockwork for J.A. Happ.
Another outing as a Yankee, another victory.
The 35-year-old lefthander won for the fifth time in five starts since his acquisition at the trade deadline as the Yankees beat the Orioles, 10-3, in the first game of a doubleheader at Camden Yards on Saturday.
Happ allowed two runs, five hits and a walk in six innings, striking out nine. “He gave us everything you could hope for,” Aaron Boone said between games.
Happ has a 2.37 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and a .185 opponents’ batting average as a Yankee. He has fanned 32 batters in 30 1/3 innings, walked eight and allowed 20 hits.
Both runs off Happ came in the second inning as Baltimore took a 2-1 lead, but the Orioles went 2-for-15 against Happ the rest of the way.
“I just tried to fine-tune some things,” said Happ, who was noticeably angry with himself in the second after allowing Renato Nunez’s two-run single. “I was kind of searching for it. But even that second inning, I didn’t feel like they were necessarily squaring the ball up. So I was just trying to stay the course there.”
Happ threw 38 pitches in the second inning and Boone feared that he might need to get a reliever up in the bullpen. It turned out not to be necessary.
“He just settled in,” Boone said. “He’s so good at controlling himself, controlling the game, controlling his emotions, that anything that happens, he’s able to right the ship. He just sharpened up from a command standpoint.”
Long forgotten, needless to say, was Happ’s mostly unimpressive run of four starts leading up to his trade to the Yankees, a stretch in which he went 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA. He is 15-6 overall with a 3.80 ERA.
“We came out and we scored 10 today,” Happ said of what’s changed for him. “Having that ability to kind of continuously be aggressive and know that we’re going to get on the board, that’s a good feeling. Just trying to continue to pound the strike zone.”
Sanchez plays in rehab game
Gary Sanchez, on the disabled list since July 24 with a right groin strain, started a rehab assignment Saturday with the Yankees’ GCL East team and went 0-for-3 with a walk as the DH in Clearwater, Florida. The plan is for him to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday and play most of the week with the RailRiders.
“Excited for him to start his trek back now,” Aaron Boone said. Sanchez could rejoin the Yankees in time for a West Coast trip that begins a week from Monday in Oakland.
Hicks sticks a few
Aaron Hicks entered Game 1 in a 2-for-21 mini-slump but was robbed of a pair of hits Friday night, hammering two balls right at fielders. He had three hits in Game 1 Saturday, including his 21st homer, a drive to rightfield that landed on Eutaw Street.
“Feels awesome,” said Hicks, who was a triple away from the cycle in Game 1 and added two hits in Game 2. “Yesterday was a frustrating day and you come back the next day and stuff starts dropping for you, it always feels good.”
The Yankees hit four homers in the first game, giving them an MLB-leading 29 games in which they have hit at least three. They’re 24-5 in those games. They added one in Game 2 and have 210 in 129 games, a pace that would give them 264, matching the major-league record set by the 1997 Mariners . . . The Yankees improved to an MLB-best 51-7 when their starter goes at least six innings. They moved 35 games over .500 for the first time this season.