Mar 25, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays J.A. Happ (48) throws a pitch in the second inning of the spring training exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Today’s score looked like a football game as the Toronto Blue Jays were downed by the Pittsburgh Pirates 22-5. The Pirates absolutely crushed the Blue Jays’ pitching to a tune of 29 hits, which included four home runs and six doubles. Starling Marte led the way for the Bucs going 5 for 6, with two dingers and four RBIs.
J.A. Happ continued to struggle, allowing 12 hits and seven runs across three innings. In spring training he’s now allowed 21 hits and 16 earned runs in just seven innings. The good news for Happ is that he is has now been stretched out to 75 pitches. He also did not allow any free passes and was able to throw a lot of strikes on a day when conditions were tough. You know it is a bad day when you allow the opposing pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, to hit a 2-run homer and a single. I don’t know what is in Happ’s Gatorade, but he doesn’t feel that his spring performance (20.57 ERA) has affected his chances at starting the season as Toronto’s 4th or 5th starter.
"”I don’t know who’s all saying things have changed,” he said. ”I guess I’m not part of those conversations. I haven’t had one with anybody who’s telling me things are changing. It’s you (media) guys saying that. I take positives and move forward, and I plan on getting better.”"
Esmil Rogers followed Happ and was unable to build off his previous start against Philadelphia Phillies, where he only allowed one run over 4.2 innings while striking out 6. In today’s outing Rogers faced 20 batters in 2.2 innings, giving up nine hits and nine ER.
Going into spring training Rogers and Happ were considered the top contenders for the final two rotation spots, but today’s performance will not help in their respective bids to claim those spots with only a week to go in spring training. John Stilson and Tyler Ybarra closed out today’s game.
On offense, Matt Tuiasosopo hit a solo shot off Wandy Rodriguez, and minor outfielder Brett Carroll had two hits. There was not much else to cheer for as Toronto fielded a lineup with only 3 regulars, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ryan Gions which was able to produce 9 hits and 4 runs.
In other news, Dustin McGowan threw 62 pitches in a minor league spring training game. Dustin went four shutout innings, gave up three hits while fanning four batters and not issuing a walk. He threw 41 of his pitches for strikes and consistently hit 92-96 mph on the radar gun. That make two very good performances in a row, coupled with the uninspiring performances of Rogers, Happ, Marcus Stroman and to a lesser extent Tood Redmond, Dustin McGowan must being making it very difficult for John Gibbons and Alex Anthopoulos to not view him as the strongest candidate for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation.