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Yankees’ offense backs up J.A. Happ’s strong debut in 6-3 victory over Royals

Yankees finish the series on a high note.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

J.A. Happ made his Yankees debut today, and it was a good one. The left-hander tossed six strong innings of one-run ball, and only allowed three hits to the Royals. One of those hits was a solo home run off the bat of Salvador Perez. Especially after Luis Severino’s recent struggles, it was refreshing to watch a Yankee pitcher put together an easy outing.

The Yankees gave their new teammate an early lead to work with. In the first inning, Burch Smith induced two quick ground outs, then walked Didi Gregorius. With Aaron Hicks at the plate, Gregorius advanced to second on a pickoff attempt. Somewhat impressively, Smith’s throw missed the first baseman’s glove, but the ball hit the umpire in the wrist and sent his Fitbit flying. Once play resumed, Hicks crushed a home run off the screen on the right field foul pole to make it a 2-0 game.

They added another run in the fourth. Hicks started off the bottom half with a double to right. Gleyber Torres and Greg Bird were unable to move him over, but Miguel Andujar brought Hicks home on a single to left. Neil Walker worked a walk to keep the inning alive, then Austin Romine was rudely robbed of a three-run bomb by a leaping Brett Phillips.

The offense continued to expand their lead. After back-to-back singles by Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton to start the fifth, Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases. Torres and Bird pushed two more runs across the plate to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead. The following inning, they tacked on another run thanks to a Stanton sac fly.

After six innings and 96 pitches, Happ was lifted in favor of Chad Green. The reliever has not been as sharp this season, and promptly surrendered a home run to Hunter Dozier. Alex Gordon doubled, but Green was able to escape the inning without any further damage. Oddly enough, David Robertson’s eighth inning started off the same way as Green’s. Rosell Herrera jumped on the first pitch out of D-Rob’s hand and hit the first home run of his career. Robertson settled down after that, striking out the next two batters before getting Whit Merrifield to line out.

Aroldis Chapman must be feeling better. After a couple of shaky outings, he struck out the side to close out the game.

The Yankees will have tomorrow off before welcoming the Orioles to town for a quick two-game series. Masahiro Tanaka is expected to start Tuesday night’s game opposite of Yefry Ramirez.