J.A. Happ just showed Phillies management, coaches, players, and fans why he deserves a spot not only in the starting rotation for the rest of the season, but also as the fourth man in the playoff rotation.
Tonight, Happ pitched nine shutout innings for his second complete game shutout of the season. He racked up a career high 10 strikeouts as well, showing that he can be dominant. On a night where Pedro Martinez pitched six strong innings in AA ball where he fanned 11 batters, J.A. Happ overshadowed with a more dominant performance against the Wild Card leading Rockies.
J.A. wasn’t the only story tonight. After a six-game stretch where the Phillies bats were limp and the team went 1-5 while scoring a total of 13 runs, they finally started hitting. Each starter got a hit, including a double by Happ, and Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz, and Jayson Werth hit homers for the Phils. Ryan Howard also recorded an RBI tonight, and Chase Utley got hit by a pitch for the 17th time this season and 100th time in his career.
The hot summer night was all the Phillies needed to get back on track in front of a crowd that acted as if tonight’s game was a playoff game. The atmosphere was absolutely electric as J.A. Happ struck out the final batter of the game, demonstrating poise that is needed out of a playoff pitcher.
Tomorrow afternoon Cliff Lee makes his home debut. He will have to do something extraordinary to overshadow his first start where he pitched a complete game while allowing only one run. Hopefully he is the competitive type and will only want to improve on his performance, and maybe try to beat out Happ’s outing from tonight.