DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Take away one bad pitch from Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's third start of the spring, and Friday's 3-2 victory over the Red Sox would have been practically pristine.Alas, that one pitch came in the fifth inning and wound up being turned into a towering two-run drive
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Take away one bad pitch from Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's third start of the spring, and Friday's 3-2 victory over the Red Sox would have been practically pristine.
Alas, that one pitch came in the fifth inning and wound up being turned into a towering two-run drive by Boston's Bryce Brentz that landed atop Florida Auto Exchange Stadium's bullpen net in right field, putting a dent in Happ's otherwise-scoreless afternoon.
Other than that lone hiccup, it was another smooth outing for the tall left-hander. He gave up three hits and struck out five with no walks in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Happ, a 20-game winner during a career-best season in 2016 that saw him finish sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting, primarily focused on fine-tuning his changeup with catcher Russell Martin against Boston.
Once the Blue Jays get into the regular season, the southpaw said he hopes to use the pitch a little more to change the swing of opposing batters, which will hopefully lead to more opportunities to get outs in key situations.
"We were trying to see how that changeup would play," Happ said. "And I think we felt pretty good about it, so we threw that quite a bit. Just tried to get some more live looks on it, but we kind of just used everything I feel like maybe we normally would. I feel good, overall, about it."
This spring has been quiet yet efficient for Happ, who is entering the second leg of a three-year, $36 million contract he signed to return to the Blue Jays last offseason. The 34-year-old veteran has a 1.59 ERA and has struck out eight batters without allowing a walk in 11 1/3 innings.
If he can carry over Friday's performance into his next start, Happ is confident it will be enough to set him up well going into the regular season.
"If we can kind of do something really similar to today, I'd feel good about kind of going in," Happ said. "Right now, we're just looking for how the recovery goes the next five days. And as long as that's good, we'll try to do it again and then we should be ready to rock here once the season starts."
Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com.