The Yankees’ attention initially focused on the left-hander who threw the first pitch of Saturday’s game here, but a few hours later it shifted to the lefty who was supposed to throw the last.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ, a pitcher the Yankees may seek at the trade deadline this month to bolster their rotation, made the initial pitch, and Brett Gardner served it into the seats in center field. That set the tone of the day for Happ, who did not make it out of the third inning.
More alarming for the Yankees was the wince on Aroldis Chapman’s face when he threw a pitch in the ninth inning while trying to protect a four-run lead. After Chapman, who has been dealing with tendinitis in his left knee for about two months, released the ball for a strikeout pitch to Randal Grichuk, he grimaced and appeared to limp for a moment.
“Today was just really different, the sensation and pain,” Chapman said through an interpreter.
Chapman was replaced by Chasen Shreve, who surrendered a home run to Aledmys Diaz before recording the final out in an 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
Aaron Boone, the Yankees manager, said the club’s medical staff was not alarmed by Chapman’s condition and would continue to manage it.
Chapman said his discomfort increased noticeably on Saturday. He said that he felt a little pain while just standing and speaking to reporters after the game and that he had also felt it while warming up in the bullpen. Asked whether he needed a few days of rest or could come back and pitch as soon as Sunday, Chapman was uncertain.
“It’s hard to say,” Chapman said. “Day by day is the focus, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Chapman, the anchor of a strong Yankees bullpen, is having another good season with 24 saves, only one blown save and a 1.43 earned run average in 38 games.
The Yankees also had minor concerns about Aaron Hicks, the streaking center fielder who was removed from the game in the seventh inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. He said the hamstring had only been cramping and that there was no residual pain after the game, but Boone said he would try to give Hicks the day off on Sunday and then use him for the doubleheader Monday in Baltimore.
“He’s so important to us as a switch-hitter and the flexibility he gives to us in our lineup,” Boone said. “Hopefully it’s just something where he’s down for a day and then available for the doubleheader.”
The win offset much of the injury concerns, and it was looking like an easy one when Aaron Judge followed Gardner’s home run four pitches later with his 25th.
“I was just trying to do what Gardy did,” Judge said.
But Gardner also had a triple and scored twice.
Happ recorded only eight outs and needed 84 pitches to do it. He surrendered six runs and four hits, and he issued six walks in his second consecutive poor outing, perhaps raising warnings for any team, including the Yankees, that would be interested in trading for him.
But until a week ago, Happ was having a terrific season. He was 10-3 with a 3.62 E.R.A. after a win against the Houston Astros on June 25. But in his next start against the Detroit Tigers, he allowed seven runs, including a grand slam to Nick Castellanos. That, combined with Saturday’s beating by the Yankees, accounted for 12 earned runs in eight and one-third innings.
Before that he had won six consecutive starts, and his E.R.A. during those games was 2.62 as opponents batted only .172 against him.
For a team like the Yankees, who still have 10 games remaining against their division rivals in Boston, Happ’s record against the Red Sox could be particularly intriguing. In 18 career appearances versus the Sox, including 17 starts, Happ’s E.R.A. is 3.09. And Boston’s batting average against him in those games is .224.
Saturday was not a good game for starting pitching in general. Luis Severino allowed three runs and five hits while walking two. But that was good enough for the win on a day when offense decided the outcome.
Severino is 14-2 with a 2.12 E.R.A. and is a leading candidate to start for the American League in the All-Star Game. Boone supported that idea, but also sounded like a manager who had just seen his closer walk gingerly off the field.
“I would like to see him start,” Boone said of Severino, “and go one inning.”