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Yankees Highlights: J.A. Happ excels in relief but offense gets flattened

Happ’s strong performance out of the bullpen was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary game.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees lost today, and their chances of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs have dwindled even further. That means the importance in the season’s final games lies more and more in setting up the roster and defining the team’s strategies heading into the postseason. On that front, perhaps tonight could be considered a success, as the Yankees may have gleaned some insight into how to deploy J.A. Happ in October.

Winner of the Game

As hinted at before, the Yankees used tonight’s game to experiment with having Happ enter the game in relief. Happ was excellent as a follower, relieving opener Jonathan Loaisiga to start the second inning. Happ’s only blemish across five innings out of the bullpen was an RBI double from Matt Duffy in the sixth. He yielded that lone run to go along with four hits and six strikeouts. This outing might make the Yankees feel more comfortable about using Happ in a similar capacity in a potential Game Four of the ALDS.

Loser of the Game

Let’s just cite the entire offense here. New York’s bats looked absolutely helpless against Charlie Morton, who’s finishing off a great first season in Tampa Bay. Morton recorded the first 17 outs of the game without allowing a hit, and finished with six shutout innings, one hit, and nine strikeouts. Congratulations are in order for DJ LeMahieu, who recorded the only Yankee hit of the night.

Honorable mention: While Happ aced his playoff audition, Loaisiga struggled in his. The young righty allowed two runs in the first inning on four hits. It remains to be seen if he’s done enough to crack the postseason roster.