If any Blue Jays follower was questioning whether or not J.A. Happ was just another stop-gap starter for the team, the 29 year-old lefty made great strides on Friday night against the Texas Rangers to put those questions to rest.
In his third start for Toronto, Happ threw 98 pitches over six innings, gave up one run on two hits, walked one and struck out eight. Most impressively, seven of his strikeouts came in the first three innings against the first nine Texas batters of the game, including striking out six Rangers in a row. The second time through the order for Happ wasn’t as domineering, but he kept Texas off the scoreboard until the fifth inning. Back-to-singles, a sac bunt followed by a groundout to second scored the Rangers first run. They later scored again in the seventh when that had the bases loaded and Omar Vizquel was unable to come up with a hard shot to third for the last out of the inning.
For Toronto, whose offense has been more off than on lately, the batters were able to produce just enough to go with the excellent pitching by Happ and five members of the bullpen.
Edwin Encarnacion started the scoring with homerun number 31 in the first inning, driving in himself and Kelly Johnson who walked earlier in the inning. The Jays would score the eventual winning run in the fifth. Anthony Gose broke his bat hitting his first major league triple and hardly had time for a breather before Rajai Davis hit him home on a single to centre in the next at-bat.
Manager John Farrell used his bullpen well, bringing in Steve Delabar and Brandon Lyon for two outs each, and then Aaron Loup and Brad Lincoln both for a single batter. Casey Janssen threw 11 pitches in the three-up-three-down ninth inning to get his 16th save of the season.
Saturday’s game two starts at 1:07pm. Carlos Villanueva will try to hold down the Texas lineup again and follow up his seven inning win on Monday against the White Sox. Roy Oswalt will take Ryan Dempster’s place and start for the Rangers, as Dempster has stepped away from the team for personal reasons.
About the Author
Written by Amanda Tallon
Self-professed baseball nerd, blogger, writer, tweeter, learning addict and once colour commentator. Celebrating over twenty years of love with the Toronto Blue Jays and the beautiful game of baseball. I also contribute to thegalsgotgame.com, a sports website for business women by women.