October 7, 2020 | 9:42pm
A day after the Yankees bungled their pitching in an ALDS Game 2 loss to the Rays and J.A. Happ indicated he wasn’t fully sold on the plan of him entering in the second inning, following Deivi Garcia, Aaron Boone stood by the decision.
And the manager added he spoke with Happ multiple times in the lead-up to Tuesday’s game about the strategy.
“It’s definitely something I got ahead of with him,’’ Boone said before Game 3 on Wednesday in San Diego. “Anytime we make a decision, especially this time of year around a roster decision, a lineup change [or] a unique pitching situation we’re gonna go with, it’s done with a lot of thought and discussion with the idea we’re trying to win games and win series, and it doesn’t mean it’s always gonna work out.”
That was especially true on Tuesday, when Garcia gave up a solo homer in the first and was pulled after the inning, having thrown 27 pitches.
Happ, who began warming up in the first, entered to start the bottom of the second and, as he said Tuesday night, never got “into a groove.” He allowed a two-run homer to Mike Zunino in his first inning of work and another two-run shot to Manuel Margot an inning later.
The 37-year-old lasted just 2 ²/₃ innings and left with the Yankees in a four-run hole they couldn’t climb out of. Afterward, Happ said he’d let Boone “speak to [the strategy].”
Boone on Wednesday said he spoke with Happ in the days leading up to Game 2 to “get him on board with exactly the plan, because it was outside his normal routine. That’s something with a player, we want to have them involved with and in the loop.”
With Jordan Montgomery set to start Game 4 on Thursday, Boone said Garcia could be available. The manager added he expected both Garcia and Happ to go back to normal starting roles if the Yankees advance to a best-of-seven ALCS.
“I would expect that,’’ Boone said. “[Tuesday] night, this team [Tampa Bay] is a little bit unique.’’
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he was surprised the Yankees pulled Garcia and went to Happ so quickly.
“We’ve had countless teams do it to us,’’ Cash said of using an opener. “[Tuesday] night, I had no idea [what they would do]. Garcia threw 100 pitches [in his last regular-season start], and Happ’s been a starter his entire career.”
Cash didn’t go to his bench for right-handed bats when the lefty Happ came in because he “wasn’t totally convinced Happ was gonna be out there that long.”
That wound up not being an issue, as Happ wasn’t especially effective pitching to either side of the plate.