PIRATES – CUBS REACTIONS
By John Perrotto
J.A. Happ’s debut with the Pirates on Tuesday night was pretty, ahem, hapless.
Happ allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Pirates lost 5-0 to the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. The Pirates acquired the left-hander last Friday from the Seattle Mariners in a trade as right-hander A.J. Burnett went on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his elbow.
“I was anxious to get out there,” Happ said. “I put us in a tough spot.”
He certainly did by walking Jorge Soler in the first inning to force in the game’s first run.
“Obviously you’re trying to be aggressive there,” Happ said. “I just fell behind and then missed on a 3-2 pitch. Obviously want to make him put the ball in play and earn that run and I didn’t do that.”
The Cubs made it 3-0 in the third when Anthony Rizzo doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s double then David Ross hit an RBI single.
Happ was lifted in the fifth inning after giving up another double to Rizzo and walking Soler again with one out. Castro then greeted reliever Jared Hughes with his second RBI double.
“I made a few mistakes, specifically to Rizzo and Castro and that ended up hurting me,” Happ said.
Happ was asked if he was nervous about making his first start for his new team or being asked to take Burnett’s place in the rotation. The 32-year-old veteran of eight seasons shrugged those questions off.
“I think anything I say would be an excuse,” he said. “Those are all little things and they’ll get better as I get to know the guys and the catchers and what not. It’s about executing and you want to work to be better, and I will be better.
“I’m looking forward to my next start.”
His rough start was a continuation of his recent troubles with the Mariners. He was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts and was rocked seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings last Thursday in a loss to the Twins at Minnesota.
“I think I just need to trust my stuff and continue to be aggressive,” Happ said. “Hits are going to happen, runs are going to happen in this game but when they do, I think just continuing to trust my stuff and trust that it plays and works at this level. I think if I kind of have a little bit more of that attitude good things will happen.”
Happ did have six strikeouts, his most since May 9, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle tried to draw some positives from the outing.
“First and foremost there were some solid sequences throughout the evening,” Hurdle said.
“The overall consistency, we’ve got to get some improvement there.
“You saw a quality pitch just about every at-bat. But overall balls were up. Balls were up over the plate, some deep counts.”
–The Pirates were shut out on four hits by Jake Arrieta and relievers Tommy Hunter and Justin Grimm. Arrieta allowed just two singles in seven innings — to Andrew McCuthen in the fifth inning and Starling Marte in the seventh.
“The cut fastball played well,” Hurdle said. “We couldn’t get the barrel to it outside of Marte and McCutchen in the middle. We weren’t able to get other people involved.
“I think the one point in time we’d seen 90 pitches and only had one hit and we were just rolling into the seventh inning. We couldn’t find a way to connect any dots on him.
–Reliever Arquimedes Caminero pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out six. The rookie has made four scoreless appearances covering 4 2/3 innings after allowing four runs in three innings in his previous two games.
“He’s working in that direction,” Hurdle said when asked if Caminero could return to higher-leverage situations. “This is the fourth solid outing, this one with some very serious length to it.
“A couple sequences where he had to pitch to stay away from keeping them off the plate. He did. He used the breaking balls, he threw it for strikes, he threw it for chase. Another good sign for him, of him heading back in the right direction.”
–Right-handed reliever Rob Scahill, on the disabled list with right forearm tightness since June 26, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday by pitching two innings for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates.
If that goes well, he would join Class AA Altoona sometime next week and make a three-inning appearance then be reevaluated.