As Pedro Martinez struck out 11 batters in six innings during a rehab appearance, somebody will be the odd man out of the rotation. With talk as to whether he will move to the bullpen, James Anthony Happ certainly made his case to keep his job as a starter. Tonight, he was both starter and reliever in a complete game shutout.
In the bottom of the first, something rare happened. With a runner in scoring position, Ryan Howard drove in a run. Finally, a run driven in with a man on base! It wasn’t the only time. Pedro Feliz and Jimmy Rollins homered in the second inning to make it 4-0. Jayson Werth later homered extending the lead to seven.
Prior to tonight, Jorge De La Rosa won seven consecutive games, a franchise record. He was the perfect pitcher for the Phillies to take advantage of and get back on track. They had no problem ending his streak. De La Rosa now has a 9.78 career earned run average against the Phillies.
The ball was flying out of the park for the Phillies. Not so much for the Rockies, mainly due to Happ’s dominance. Nine innings, four hits, two walks, but more importantly, no runs. He struck out a new career high, 10 batters. The complete game shutout was Happ’s second of his career. The last came against the Toronto Blue Jays in June. It’s not like Happ shutout a bad team. With a potent lineup, the Rockies are in the mix for the National League Wild Card.
Something a starter does that a reliever doesn’t is hit. If pitching wasn’t enough to prove why he should start, Happ laid down a sacrifice bunt, in addition to his first extra base hit of his career, a double to center.
Fans anticipated the final out and adrenaline took the 127th offering from Happ. All Troy Tulowitski could do was stare at a fastball on the outside corner. Game over, 7-0, Phillies.
He walked off the mound at the end of the eighth to a standing ovation. He stepped up to the plate to the same reaction. He received another round of applause after completing the shutout. There is no doubt the fans want Happ in the rotation, and there is no doubt that Happ wants it too. He survived spring training. He made it through the trade deadline. Will he remain a starter? He is making a tough decision for the team.