To quote the manager:
John Gibbons: "We needed that."— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) July 4, 2017
J.A. Happ came up big for the Blue Jays on Independence Day, going six innings to halt a five game losing streak, all within the division, and against the despised Yankees at that.
Happ cruised through the first three innings, allowing just a two out hit in the first to Gary Sanchez, sandwiched around a pair of swinging strikeouts. Other that that, it was weak or routine contact, and Happ looked like he might go 7 or 8 innings.
Alas, the Yankees are too good an offensive team for that to happen, and the second and third times through were not nearly as easy. The lone blemish on Happ was a solo home run to Aaron Judge leading off the 4th, an absolute missile that left the bat at 118 MPH. According to the Gameday feed, it was the fourth hardest hit ball recorded this year by Statcast - the other three being Judge home runs. The dude is pretty good. However, even the hardest hit home run only counts for one when no one's on.
Happ laboured through the next two innings, allowing two singles and walk and running some deep counts, bending but not breaking. The consequence though was that his pitch count was up to 90 after five innings, and it wasn't clear how much deeper he was going to, especially after he walked the first batter of the 6th on another deep count. However, he rebounded to strike out the next three batters swinging, with a little bit of help from a favourable strike zone. All told, he allowed 4 hits and 2 walks against 6 strikeouts, a very fine outing.
Meanwhile, the Jays did all their scoring in an improbable four run 3rd inning in which they knocked out C.C. Sabathia. It started with two outs, as Sabathia was actually perfect to that point. With a 3-2 count to Darwin Barney, he threw a breaking ball rather than challenging him, and walked him. Barney advanced to second on a wild pitch, scoring on a single by Jose Bautista to put the Jays up 1-0.
Then it all fell apart. Russell Martin singled, and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases bringing up Justin Smoak. He too walked to force across the run, and then Kendrys Morales grounded a single to plate another too and end Sabathia's afternoon. It was also the end of the Blue Jays scoring, as Luis Cessa shut them down from the 4th through the 8th innings.
A quartet of relievers shut down the Yankees for the last three innings. Domonic Leone and Jean-Jeff Beliveau combined for the 7th, working around a leadoff walk. Ryan Tepera rebounded from yesterday's meltdown with a clean 8th (after starting Judge 3-0) and Roberto Osuna carved up the Yankees in a perfect 9th, two strikeouts and a weak ground ball.
Jays of the Day: Happ (+0.229), Bautista (+0.101), Morales (+0.101)
No suckage in this one.
Tomorrow the Jays will look to take the series tomorrow in another afternoon matinee affair (boo...) with Marco Estrada taking on Michael Pineda.