Perhaps J.A. Happ was a little unsettled by the somewhat out-of-the-blue callup of Ricky Romero?
Or perhaps he thought Throwback Thursday meant that he could emulate former Toronto Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg. Either way, the team’s No. 4 starter (with Josh Johnson on the shelf) showed off his seemingly endless generosity on Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox, and came out of his latest with a career-high for his troubles.
The only problem? Happ left the game far too early, and the career-high isn’t something something that he, nor any other pitcher in the bigs, would want.
That’s just what seven walks got him, though. Channeling Brandon Morrow at his worst (remember his five-walk inning against the same Red Sox back in 2010? Good — you don’t want to), it took a borderline miracle (or a timely double play, to be more precise) for Happ to escape the fourth inning with just a pair of earn runs to his name.
Only after his fourth walk of that frame with two outs did manage John Gibbons realize that, at 95 pitches, the lefty just wasn’t quite going to be able to complete the escape act, mercifully removed him from the game and leaving the bullpen with a very long night of work.
The 3.2 inning of work was Happ’s shortest outing for the Blue Jays in 2013 — a shame, really, because he’s been mostly excellent otherwise.
The saving grace here — not that there’s a whole lot of it as the team wound up losing 3-1 and falling 10.5 games back — is that when he wasn’t giving out free bases like it was Christmas, Happ actually only allowed three hits, even managing to start the game in promising fashion with a 1-2-3 inning.
Did a leadoff double by Mike Napoli, who is quickly becoming enemy No. 1 in Toronto, rattle Happ in the second inning? It’s certainly possible, as he allowed both of his runs in the frame.
Either way, considering that he has arguably been the team’s best and most consistent starter, the Blue Jays are certainly hoping that the left-hander’s charity work on the mound ended on Thursday. With the team in such a deep hole, there’s simply no more time left for errors.
Oh look, and I even managed to go through this whole thing without mentioning the delicious irony between the most-out-of-control outing in Happ’s career and the fact that he essentially won a rotation job in Spring Training when Romero struggled with the same issue … oh, whoops.