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J.A. Happ, Yankees fall quietly to Diamondbacks

J.A. Happ #34 of the Yankees looks on

J.A. Happ #34 of the Yankees looks on during the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The clock for Wednesday’s 4 p.m. MLB trade deadline ticked off the last full day and the Yankees — still on general manager Brian Cashman’s quest for someone to bolster the starting rotation — saw another option come off the board. A couple days after Marcus Stroman was dealt from Toronto to the Mets, the Indians traded Trevor Bauer to the Reds in a three-team deal that significantly beefed-up Cleveland’s lineup.

If Yankee fans didn’t feel bad enough about that, there was also the 4-2 loss to Arizona before a season-high 47,281 at the Stadium. The Yankees managed just five hits as they suffered their fourth loss in five games.

And the matter of the trading deadline might possibly have something to do with that.

“You can’t help but think about it,” Aaron Judge said. “I know guys are probably watching and wondering what’s going to happen given the situation we’re in — being contenders and being first in our division.

“But there’s still a job we’ve got to do, focus on winning ball games, if it’s with this crew or if we add people,” Judge added. “Nobody knows but I think we’re all going to be happy when this trade deadline is passed and we continue to keep playing baseball.”

The also now may have another injury to cope with. First baseman Luke Voit was forced from the game after four innings by what the team termed a “core muscle injury” and he was sent for an MRI test. Voit, who is batting .278 with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs, grabbed at his side after striking out with two on to end the third inning. He played the next inning in the field before he was removed.

Manager Aaron Boone said Voit “didn’t feel like he did anything to it” and suggested he’d had trouble loosening up before the game. Voit came off the injured list earlier this month from an abdominal strain, but Boone was uncertain how much time this might cost Voit.

Because the Yankees are coming off a terrible stretch for the starting rotation — last week on the road against postseason contenders Minnesota and then Boston — all eyes were on starter J.A. Happ. He was neither very good nor very bad; he allowed three runs over six innings, a quality start that is good enough to win a game and usually does when backed by this Yankees offense.

However the Yankees managed only five hits. Edwin Encarnacion had a run-scoring double that made it 3-1 in the sixth and Tyler Wade hit a solo homer in the eighth to cut it to 4-2. Wade entered the game when Voit left and played third while Gio Urshela manned first for the third time in his career and first since 2017.

Happ allowed the three runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out two. It helped him turn the page on last Wednesday’s abysmal showing in Minnesota, where he gave up six runs while recording just 10 outs. It was more like the three starts before that when he threw 15 2/3 innings to a 2.93 ERA.

Arizona scored a run in the first on an Adam Jones sacrifice fly and two in the fourth on a Christian Walker homer and a Nick Ahmed run-scoring single. Carson Kelly hit a solo homer in the seventh off Luis Cessa for Arizona.

“We didn’t like that week,” Happ said of the stretch of games that included facing the Twins and Red Sox. “We don’t think it’s indicative of who we are as a staff or group. We win this game more often than not, but we keep moving forward and we’re confident in the group we’ve got.”

It remains to be seen if Cashman feels the same way. As the Yankees departed the Stadium for the short turnaround to Wednesday’s afternoon game, the clock was ticking.

New York Sports