The Canadian Press
TORONTO–J.A. Happ didn’t let the distraction of trade rumours seep into his performance yesterday afternoon in what could have been his last home start in a Toronto Blue Jays’ uniform.
The veteran left-hander was stellar through five innings in a no-decision, striking out nine and allowing just one run as Toronto rallied from three runs down to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 and sweep the series between the two bottom teams in the AL East.
With the playoff picture increasingly dimming in Toronto, Happ’s name consistently has been brought up as a trade target ahead of the July 31 deadline.
“I’m not letting myself go there,” Happ said when asked if he had thought about the start as potentially his last in Toronto.
“I’m just going to wait and see,” he noted. “It’s a tough place to be mentally so I’m trying to avoid those what ifs right now.”
“I think in some aspects, I want the next week to go quick and in some, I think I might look back and maybe not feel that way,” he added.
Happ, in his first start since making his all-star debut Tuesday night in Washington, allowed four hits and didn’t walk a batter, joining Justin Verlander as the only starters this season with four games of nine-plus strikeouts and zero walks.
He cruised through the first four innings and struck out six of his first eight batters.
But he ran into trouble in a fifth inning–blemished by a missed opportunity at a double play–as his pitch count crept above the 100 mark.
Jace Peterson tied the game for Baltimore (28-72) in the fifth on a run-scoring single off Happ, then Jonathan Schoop gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead with a solo homer off Joe Biagini in the sixth.
Baltimore tacked on two more runs in the eighth before Toronto (46-52) staged a comeback with a four-run bottom of the frame to steal the win.
Yangervis Solarte drove in the winning runs on a two-run homer off Tanner Scott (1-2) that followed a comeback-sparking two-run shot from Randal Grichuk.
Solarte said after the game he wasn’t paying attention to trade rumours surrounding Happ.
“He’s a great guy and hopefully he stays here for the long run,” Solarte said through a translator.
“The most important thing is that we won. He had a great game, he pitched well.
“We try not to think about one of our teammates getting traded,” Solarte added. “We’re happy that he’s here and hopefully he stays here.
“When you get an all-star, you don’t want to lose him.”
Solarte also hit an RBI double earlier in the game.
John Axford (4-1) earned the win despite allowing two runs (one earned) in the top of the eighth.
Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for the save.
The Orioles had taken a 4-1 lead in the eighth on a Renato Nunez RBI double and an error to Toronto second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Gurriel, who was activated off the seven-day concussion disabled list before the game, was charged with the error when he collided with shortstop Aledmys Diaz while trying to make a play on a ground ball.
“That was a communication thing; nobody knew who was taking it,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
“It wasn’t a language barrier there so it was something more than that.
“They’ll iron that out,” he added. “They’re good players out there.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Kansas City beat Minnesota 5-3, Boston dumped Detroit 9-1, Texas blanked Cleveland 5-0, L.A. pounded Houston 14-5, and Seattle beat Chicago 8-2.
Over in the NL, Pittsburgh dumped Cincinnati 9-2, Washington beat Atlanta 6-2, L.A. routed Milwaukee 11-2, Chicago upended St. Louis 7-2, and Arizona downed Colorado 6-1.
San Diego split a doubleheader with Philadelphia, winning the first game 10-2 before falling 5-0 in the nightcap.
Tampa Bay beat Miami 6-4 and Oakland edged San Francisco 6-5 (10 innings) in interleague play.
The N.Y. Mets at the N.Y. Yankees was postponed.