With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Aaron Boone pulled the plug on James Paxton.
The southpaw's start ended early Sunday after allowing one run -- Carlos Correa's one-out double to left field, scoring Alex Bregman from second base in the bottom of the second inning -- on four hits and three strikeouts to two walks in 2.1 frames, making Boone call on eight different arms out of the bullpen.
Game 2 of the ALCS ultimately ended in the bottom of the 11th inning on Correa's leadoff solo shot off J.A. Happ, who entered midway through the previous frame, but Boone backed the decision to pull Paxton early and pointed to the bullpen's overall production despite the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
"Just felt like we were covered, as far as today, with getting some length and having guys rested," Boone said. "Obviously, going into an off day tomorrow we're just going to be rested. I thought he struggled with his command and it ... doesn't end well, but I thought, as far as pitching wise, we did a good job of holding them down."
Boone referenced Saturday's strong start from Masahiro Tanaka, who went 6.0 innings in the Yankees' 7-0 win over the Astros to open the best-of-seven series with Game 1's shutout, using only three pitchers -- Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Jonathan Loaisiga -- over the final three frames.
"You're playing it to win the game," Boone said. "So you're not playing it to, 'What if we go 13?' You're playing it to, 'What gives us the best chance to win here?' And the bottom line is we end up giving up a third run in the 11th inning. I'd say, from a run-prevention standpoint, it went pretty well."
Paxton put the Yankees in a tough position, throwing 30 strikes and 21 balls among his 51 pitches before he exited the game for Chad Green, who was perfect through 2.0 innings until Ottavino entered,
"He had to make a lot of pitches tonight," Gary Sanchez said of Paxton through an interpreter. "The command wasn't really what we wanted tonight. It happens. We've got to look forward to the next one. Hopefully, (we) can do a better job next time."
Before Happ's walkoff, only Ottavino was the Yankees' other hiccup on the mound, allowing George Springer's one-out home run to left-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning and tying the game back up at 2-2.
"Better than 0-2, not as good as 2-0" - J.A. Happ pic.twitter.com/1kYxQPPFsH- Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) October 14, 2019
"I felt great the last two games," Ottavino said. "I felt like, for the most part, I've been in the zone, making pretty good competitive pitches. Some haywire stuff's gone on, but overall, I felt pretty good."
As a whole, the bullpen went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out 11 and walking four in relief of Paxton.
The Yankees get an off day Monday before the ALCS resumes Tuesday with Game 3 at Yankee Stadium in New York, featuring Luis Severino against Gerrit Cole.
After Severino went 4.0 scoreless innings with four hits and four strikeouts to two walks, throwing 83 pitches (52 strikes and 31 balls) last Monday for the Yankees' ALDS-clinching 5-1 win over the Twins at Target Field in Minnesota.
"I think we're always in a good spot going back there," Happ said. "We're going back home, so hopefully that continues to be the case."