Homer Happ-y: Walker, Home-Runs, Happ Lead Bombers

Who said that the Yankees don’t play well against bad teams?

The Yankees certainly did not live up to that statement tonight, as Neil Walker hit two of the Bomber’s five home runs, J.A. Happ struck out nine Rangers through six solid innings, and the Pinstripes held on for a seven to three victory over Texas for their fourth win in a row.

The Bombers were able to take advantage of a Ranger’s pitching staff that has allowed the third most runs in baseball this season.The home run barrage started in the bottom of the first, with Aaron Hicks sending an Ariel Jurado fastball into the second deck in right field. Miguel Andujar was next with a two-run shot of his own to left center. Walker followed up Andujar with his first home run at Yankees Stadium this year down the right field line.  

Giancarlo added the most impressive home run of the night with a 449-foot laser to left field. With an exit velocity of 121.7 miles-per-hour, Stanton hit the hardest hit home run ever recorded on Statcast.

To cap off the homer-fest, Walker added another bomb, this time from the right side against lefty Matt Moore. This was a major blast for Walker not only due to his poor numbers against left handed pitching this year (he was hitting .159 with a .213 on base percentage and a .205 slugging percentage going into that at-bat), it was also the first time that Walker had homered from both sides of the plate in his career.

HAPP-Y TO PITCH:

 After landing on the disabled list with MLB’s second case of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease since the All-Star break (and second player from New York), J.A. Happ took the hill and proved Brian Cashman right for acquiring him.

Despite the nine strikeouts, Happ did have to battle. After not allowing a hit through three innings, the veteran left hander ran into trouble in the middle innings. With two outs in the fourth, Jurickson Profar launched a no-doubter into left center to cut the Yankees 2-run lead in half. Next inning, Shin Soo-Choo drove home two runs with a double to left after the Yankees gave Happ a four-run lead.

            However, Happ fought back. He retired the red-hot Rougned Odor (who was hitting .378 with an .811 slugging percentage in the second half coming into today) with a two-pitch pop-out and then forced Elvis Andrus to swing through a high fastball. In the sixth, after allowing a one out single to Profar, Happ responded to strike out the last two batters he faced on the night.

On top of showing confidence with his high fastball, Happ looked motivated to perform. In the second inning, after Didi Gregorius made a great grab and throw to get an out, Happ was noticeably fired up to see his teammate make a great play. That’s on a second inning grounder in a game against a last place team. That kind of passion and energy is what the Yankees need from their starters down the stretch.

A SCORELESS NINTH:

Aroldis Chapman was called from the pen for the first time since his rough blown save against Boston over the weekend. After the first two batters, it looked like Déjà vu all over again.

Chapman walked the seven and eight hitters in the Ranger’s lineup and only threw three of his first 11 pitches for strikes.

However, the Cuban missile recovered. Chapman retired pinch-hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a force-out and then struck out Choo and Odor to finish the game. While not a pristine outing, it was in fact a scoreless outing and a return to form for Aroldis Chapman.

ROLL THE WAVE:

After four wins in a row, the Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the hill. The Yankees need to keep up their strong play against bad teams and bury the Rangers. Every time Happ escaped trouble, the Yankees offense was able to score and give the southpaw breathing room. The Bombers need to do the same for Tanaka against Mike Minor and the Rangers tomorrow night – with or without the long ball. 

Cover image taken from: http://dennisyouthbaseball.org/Page.asp?n=88577&org=DYYBA.COM