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J. A. Happ struggles in first start of season

The lefthander did not carry the momentum from 2018 into his first start of 2019.

J.A. Happ #34 of the Yankees pitches during

J.A. Happ #34 of the Yankees pitches during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on March 31, 2019, in the Bronx. Credit: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

J.A. Happ quickly became a rotation stalwart for the Yankees last season after being acquired from the Blue Jays, but the

lefthander did not carry that momentum into his first start of 2019.

Happ, 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees down the stretch last season, allowed four runs and five hits, including two homers, in four innings in Sunday’s 7-5 loss to the Orioles. Most significant was the three-run homer he gave up to Renato Nuñez in the first inning.

“I gave up the base hit [a double by Dwight Smith Jr.] and then kind of the infield single [a ball hit to third by Trey Mancini] and then I made a mistake [to Nuñez] and he made me pay,” Happ said.

“So that was a tough start. It kind of put us in a hole there. It changed sort of hopefully what we wanted the momentum of that game to be. We’re certainly capable of coming back from that, but you know, a tough hole to start.”

Happ then allowed a solo homer by Mancini with one out in the third to make it 4-0. He felt he got into somewhat of a groove after that, but Aaron Boone went to the bullpen after the fourth, a 1-2-3 inning for Happ.

“I want to stay in the game and try to save [the bullpen] a little bit the best I can,” said Happ, who threw 75 pitches, 50 for strikes. “I felt like I was getting better, but I understand at the same time. Some of the things [Boone] said made sense, too. It is what it is.”

Betances update

Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) threw off a mound Saturday for the first time in his rehab.

“Another good day for Dellin,” Boone said. “He’ll long toss again, throw another side and then face hitters. [We] feel good about how he’s feeling, how he’s responding each day.”

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