Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

J.A. Happ of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on July 29, 2018.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

J.A. Happ had made eight previous starts at Yankee Stadium plus a relief appearance in the final game of the 2009 World Series. This was different.

“It was kind of weird looking down and seeing the pinstripes on me,” he said, “but I’m happy to get used to it.”

James Anthony Happ made the midseason impact the Yankees hoped for, pitching one-run ball over six innings to win his New York debut 6-3 over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

“It’s a significant dude to the rotation,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in California surfer-speak, “that helps in not just the days he pitches, hopefully, but also just makes our staff and our bullpen as a whole a little bit better,”

Three days after New York acquired the 35-year-old left-hander from Toronto for infielder Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney, Happ took a shutout into the fifth before Salvador Perez’s opposite-field home run into the Yankees bullpen in right-centre. Happ (11-6) allowed three hits, struck out two and walked one, and the first-time All-Star ended a four-start winless streak.

Happ had been 4-1 as a visitor in the Bronx. He threw four-seam fastballs on 64 of 96 pitches against the Royals, including his first 13 of the third inning. He mixed in 12 changeups, seven sliders, two curveballs plus 11 two-seam sinking fastballs — all from the third inning on.

“His fastball definitely gets on you, and he likes to pitch in on hitters,” catcher Austin Romine said. “It was weird. We almost felt like I caught him before, he was so much on the same page.”

New York (67-37) won consecutive games for the first time since July 11-2 and remained 5 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Boston. The Yankees sought a boost similar to the one provided by David Cone, who made his Yankees debut exactly 23 years earlier after his acquisition from Toronto and became a key cog in the team that reached that year’s playoffs and won four World Series titles in the following five seasons. Happ joined a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray.

Interact with The Globe