CHICAGO -- On Friday, Ian Happ started against the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ, who is of no relation, and struck out three times against the lefty and finished with one more K in the seventh. What a difference a day -- and being able to bat from the other side
CHICAGO -- On Friday, Ian Happ started against the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ, who is of no relation, and struck out three times against the lefty and finished with one more K in the seventh. What a difference a day -- and being able to bat from the other side -- made for the Cubs' rookie.
Happ hit an RBI single in the first inning on Saturday, added his 18th home run of the year in the fourth and then walked in the sixth and scored the tiebreaking run on Javier Baez's single to help the Cubs post a 4-3 Interleague victory over the Blue Jays.
"I got to hit left-handed today, which helped," Happ said. "[On Friday], I didn't see the ball well. It was not a great day. Left-handed, my swing is feeling pretty good. To get back on the left side was good."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted Happ was at a little disadvantage on Friday.
"He really trended strongly against their guy today," Maddon said of Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch.
The Cubs took advantage of Tepesch's command issues in the first and loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. Happ then smacked a single to right. In the fourth, he led off with the homer, which tied the game at 2.
Happ is closing in on the 20-homer club. The Cubs already have five players who have reached that mark.
Since he was recalled from Triple-A Iowa in mid-May, Happ has developed a good pregame routine with hitting coach John Mallee. He may be trending in the right direction, but the rookie knows he can't quit working.
"Once you get complacent and satisfied, then you start going backwards," Happ said. "We talk about a lot of stuff -- we have a routine. That'll be tweaked depending on how things are going. There's still a lot of work to be done."
Happ now has tied teammate Kyle Schwarber for most home runs by a Cubs player in his first 80 career games played.
"Acclimation-wise, he's done pretty darn good," Maddon said of Happ. "The thing he's done well is when he hasn't played. It's almost like Javy [Baez]. He observes, he never complains about anything, he stays ready. ... He's like Javy was. Javy would sit and wait his turn, and when it was his turn, he'd be ready for that moment. Happ has done well, really well."
"I've felt comfortable here -- I have for a long time," Happ said. "I feel really good with this group of guys, and it's been a lot of fun."
He said that after a couple of the veterans razzed him from across the room before Happ faced the media. So, it's been OK despite the teasing?
"Yes, even if they do," Happ said, smiling.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.