Blue Jays' Happ at home pitching in Philadelphia

By Stephen Pianovich, The Sports Xchange
J.A. Happ and the Toronto Blue Jays face the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
J.A. Happ and the Toronto Blue Jays face the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

J.A. Happ will be familiar with his surroundings when he takes the mound Sunday in Philadelphia.

The Toronto Blue Jays left-hander will be making his 20th career start and 30th appearance at Citizens Bank Park, facing the team he debuted with in 2007. Happ will try to pitch the Blue Jays to a series win against the Phillies in the finale of a three-game set.


Happ (6-3, 3.97 ERA), 35, has been a reliable arm for the Blue Jays this season. He has pitched at least six innings in six of his 10 outings, and Toronto is 7-3 in his starts. Happ has a 1.102 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 59 innings.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the veteran is "as steady as you can be."


"He's old reliable. He just does his job, doesn't talk a whole lot, just goes out there. He's kind of reinvented himself, too," Gibbons said. "He used to be strictly a power guy. Command was an issue for him. Then he made some adjustments, and he has a much better feel for pitching. Doesn't throw as hard as he used to, but he can still throw it by some pretty good hitters."

Happ has been phenomenal in his last two starts after allowing seven runs against the Seattle Mariners on May 10. He has given up just two runs, five hits and three walks in his last two outings -- wins over the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels.

Sunday's start will be Happ's fifth against the Phillies, and he has been dominant against the team that drafted him. Happ is 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA when facing his former team. The Phillies have a .174 batting average and .566 OPS against him.

Nick Pivetta will start for the Phillies in the series finale, trying to keep them atop the National League East. The Phillies (29-20) have a half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the division after Saturday's win. It's the latest the Phillies have been in first place since they won the NL East in 2011.


Pivetta is coming off one of his best starts of the season. He threw seven shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, striking out seven.

Pivetta has been excellent in three starts after a rough outing against the Washington Nationals on May 4. Pivetta has combined to allow just one run, 10 hits and two walks in his last three times on the mound. He has 25 strikeouts during that 19-inning stretch.

"Games like Washington are going to happen. It's really what you do after that when you're really going to find yourself," Pivetta told after his last outing. "It's just going out there, 'What do I need to do?' Having fun in the game still. We're winning, playing great, just build off the energy that we have going on in here. It makes my life a lot easier. I don't have to think about a lot of things."

Pivetta, a second-year major leaguer, has never faced the Blue Jays.

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