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Yankees’ struggles in Oakland continue with third straight loss


OAKLAND — J.A. Happ took the loss Wednesday night and afterwards, the veteran left-hander looked lost. With his manager repeatedly pointing out that Happ has been close to turning a corner all season, Happ just has not been able to figure out what is happening to him.

Wednesday night, Happ got hurt by the home run again and was chased early. Aaron Judge, who is also struggling, struck out to kill an eighth-inning rally as the Yankees lost 6-4 to the A’s at the RingCentral Coliseum.

The A’s (73-53) clinched the series after taking their second straight against the Yankees (83-45), who dropped their first road since losing three of four in Boston July 25-28. The Bombers dropped to 15-26 against the A’s since 2013, their worst record against any American League club in that span. They are just 7-20 at the Coliseum since July of 2012.

Happ isn’t the only Yankee who has been close all season, or the only one who came up short Wednesday. Judge, a night after a home run that many hoped would help him turn the corner, went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts Wednesday. That included striking out with two runners on in the top of the eighth.

“We had a lot of good at-bats, but we couldn’t quite break through tonight,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Not that big hit tonight to really break through or have that huge inning.”

The Yankees managed 11 hits Wednesday. They went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

While it seemed significant that Judge pulled his first home run all season — a sign he’s healthy and maybe regaining his timing — it didn’t turn out to be a page-turner. He continues to be mired in a 9-for-54 slump.

“Look, I know it’s been talked about a ton, but I am excited to see him get the last few days, I feel like he’s getting some results,” the Yankees manager said. “I felt like he was on time, making his move, making good swing decisions. For me, it’s what it’s about with AJ. If he’s on time and making good swing decisions the results will be there, because he’s great. So, those kind of things are going to happen where he cleans one out like he did last night. The more momentum he can keep building, the more he can get locked in and get comfortable, he’ll take off.”

Instead, Wednesday night was another rough landing for Judge, and even rougher one for Happ, whose playoff roster spot is in doubt now.

The left-hander took his eighth loss of the season, allowing five earned runs on four hits over four innings pitched. He struck out four, walked two and gave up two home runs.

When asked what he thinks is going on, Happ was at a loss.

“I don’t know. Seems like it’s been an issue for everybody, but definitely for me. The bloop and the homer, the walk and the homer there’s four runs. I am just struggling to keep the ball in the park for whatever reason,” Happ said. “It’s not for a lack of trying. We are doing whatever we can between starts, trying to figure out sequencing, location, execution, delivery. They got the two today, got a guy on base each time. That makes it tough.”

JA Happ struggled again on Wednesday night against the A's. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Happ got through 1.2 innings before he got hurt Wednesday.

He gave up a two-out single to Stephen Piscotty and then a home run to Khris Davis. He got out of that inning, but walked the A’s No. 9 hitter Josh Phegley to lead off the third and then gave up a home run to Marcus Semien.

With the two home runs, Happ has allowed a career high 31, on pace to be well past the 27 he allowed last season. That’s the third most in the majors behind Mike Leake (34) and Justin Verlander (33).

“I know he’s frustrated, obviously,” Boone said. “The stuff is there enough for him to continue to go out and be successful, we just got to continue to find a way with him. Try and learn from things, but really find, build on the positive things that are happening within an outing.”

Boone was adamant Happ will make his next start, but his future beyond that is clearly up in the air.

“I feel good, so I feel like I can make the adjustments and I can make the changes,” Happ said. “That’s my hope at least.”

After a season of being close to turning it around, however, Happ and the Yankees have to figure this out fast.