Happ throws six scoreless innings
J.A Happ worked efficiently through six scoreless innings on his way to earning his first win as a Pirate. The only danger he encountered came in the second, when he walked the first two hitters of the inning. He extracted himself from the situation via a double play and ground out.
"It was fun to watch him out there tonight," Clint Hurdle said. "Pitched out of trouble in the second with the two walks. That was basically the only time he wasn't in command."
Hurdle decided to go his bullpen in the seventh, even though Happ had only thrown 83 pitches.
"We've talked for about two weeks about shortening the game," Hurdle said. "In my mind you want [Joakim] Soria out there with some rest and then run it down from there."
Happ walked two and struck out three, while only allowing two hits. As is his way when things are going well, he relied on deception and avoiding hard contact rather than dominating stuff. He gave up one line drive and and only three hard hit balls.
"I felt pretty comfortable the whole game," Happ said. "I didn't have my best fastball tonight, but I think we were able to move it around and use some off-speed and keep them off balance."
It is the second strong start in a row for Happ, who is pitching well after suddently finding himself thrown smack tab in the middle of divisional race.
"If you watched him pitch in the first half [of the season], this shouldn't surprise you," Hurdle said. "He had some challenges in the second half, but he seems to have figured some things out."
New additions contributing
It's too early to ordain J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton as the newest editions to the Ray Searage/Neal Huntington mantle of revived pitchers, but in the last 48-hours they have combined for nine scoreless innings and supplied huge contributions in back-to back wins. Blanton posted the Pirates highest WPA score last night [.378], and Happ gained that distinction tonight [.261 WPA].
"Everybody we have brought in has helped whether it be off the mound or the plate," Hurdle said. "It's been fun to watch. A seemless transition for everyone."
Sean Rodriguez observed that contending teams get contributions up-and-down the roster.
"That's the sign of great team," Rodriguez said. You basically sit down on a daily basis and you can hope and see that anyone can contribute on a daily basis."
Rodriguez paces the offense
The Pirates scored all the runs they would need with a three-run second inning. Sean Rodriguez had a big night offensively, going 3-4 with a RBI
"It's essentially what you're trying to do and I was able to do it," Rodriguez said of his night at the plate.