J.A. Happ made a convincing case to be a regular member of the Toronto Blue Jays' rotation on Friday.
Happ had his best outing of the season, striking out eight over six innings, and Toronto's bullpen held on for a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.
"Coming in today, I wanted to throw everything with conviction, that was my goal against a lineup like this," said Happ. "I wanted to give them my best stuff.
"[Catcher Jeff Mathis] did a great job back there of calling the game and we went with my strengths and what was working."
Happ (2-1) gave up only two hits and a run in his third start since joining the Blue Jays (56-63). He'd been coming out of the bullpen since being traded to Toronto by the Houston Astros on July 20.
Happ retired the first nine hitters he faced, striking out seven including six consecutive strikeouts in the second and third innings. The six Ks in a row matched a club record held by Ted Lilly (vs. the Boston Red Sox in 2004) and Mark Rzepczynski (vs. the New York Yankees in 2010).
"That's as good a three innings as you're going to see anywhere," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "He got a number of pitches up in the zone for some swing and a miss, had a very good fastball tonight, he mixed in his change-up and breaking ball in good spots."
Farrell turned to Toronto's bullpen after six innings, and got mixed results. Steve Delabar replaced Happ to start the seventh and struggled, loading the bases on a walk, a single and another walk. Adrian Beltre then scored when Blue Jays third baseman Omar Vizquel couldn't handle Mike Olt's hit.
Vizquel was charged with an error and Brandon Lyon was brought in to replace Delabar. Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler grounded into a fielder's choice at second to end the seventh with Toronto still ahead 3-2.
Farrell stuck with Lyon to start the eighth, then brought in Aaron Loup to strike out Texas slugger Josh Hamilton. Loup was replaced by Brad Lincoln, who gave up a single to Beltre but then induced a groundout to end the inning.
Closer Casey Janssen then retired three in a row.
© Copyright 2013