MINNEAPOLIS -- For seven innings in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Twins, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was as in control as one could be on the mound.The left-hander allowed just a single hit through seven, and one of only two runners that advanced into scoring position was summarily erased
MINNEAPOLIS -- For seven innings in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Twins, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was as in control as one could be on the mound.
The left-hander allowed just a single hit through seven, and one of only two runners that advanced into scoring position was summarily erased one batter later on a double play.
Things quickly changed in the eighth, however, as Happ was undone by a single, a walk and an RBI double down the right-field line that happened, seemingly, in the blink of an eye.
"It's hard to say they were better than us, but that's the fact of the matter," Happ said. "Ball through the five-hole, a walk and a slap hit and that's the game. It's tough to take."
Happ got early run support in the form of a two-run homer by Jose Bautista in the third, but the Blue Jays could never tack on against Twins lefty Pat Dean, who was making his first Major League start.
At first, it didn't matter.
Coming off his worst start of the season Monday against the Rays, Happ started hot, retiring nine of the first 10 men he faced and not allowing a hit until Eduardo Nunez's leadoff double in the fourth.
The next man up, Miguel Sano, flew out to deep left-center field, and a nice defensive play by center fielder Kevin Pillar, throwing out Nunez at third, got Happ out of the only trouble he faced through seven innings.
A walk to the No. 7 batter Darin Mastroianni was the only man to reach base through the middle innings, but it was a bad omen for Happ. Mastroianni, who has zero hits in nine at-bats, walked a second time in the decisive eighth and came around to score the tying run on Danny Santana's slap double two batters later. Gavin Floyd came on in relief and allowed a go-ahead three-run shot to Nunez.
"He couldn't have pitched any better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Happ. "But then the leadoff hit and the walk, walks always, in tight games, they're guaranteed to burn you -- it's like the baseball gods punishing you."
Still, it was a nice bounce-back start for Happ, who referred to his last start as a "nightmare outing" after allowing eight runs on seven hits in just two innings.
"Other than that eighth inning, I felt really good about it," Happ said. "Even with that eighth inning, that's going to happen. The game was close and it got away from us there, but we'll try and come back, win the series [Sunday] and go from there."
Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com.