TORONTO—Starting pitcher J.A. Happ and catcher Erik Kratz had a plan.
The left-hander came through with six solid innings and, with two home runs and three RBIs from Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 last night.
Happ (2-1) allowed six hits, two walks, and one run—on a homer by David Murphy in the fifth inning—in just his third start of the season.
He believes preparation with Kratz was the key to his success.
“We went over some stuff before the game about how we wanted to attack them a little bit more deliberately,” Happ noted.
“And for the most part we were able to do that.”
Jays’ manager John Gibbons, who won his 400th game with Toronto, liked how the team’s starting battery operated.
“[Happ] stepped up,” Gibbons said. “[And] I thought Kratz did a nice job with him, working that fastball on the inside part of the plate.
“That was big for him, it really was. And big for us.”
Happ’s control impressed the Indians’ lineup, too.
“His fastball was really getting on guys,” noted Cleveland left-fielder Ryan Raburn.
“I know it’s 92-93 [m.p.h.] but out of his hand, it just seemed a lot harder.
“And he spotted his pitches,” Raburn added. “He didn’t miss over the plate a whole lot from what I saw.”
Encarnacion, who now has eight homers on the season, also had a double and lined out to third in his other at-bat.
Juan Francisco hit his seventh homer of the season for the Jays (21-21), who won the rubber match of a three-game series with the Indians (19-22) to complete a 5-4 home stand.
If Happ is battling to prove to some people that he belongs in the rotation, he preferred not to discuss it in detail.
“I don’t want to get into that,” he remarked.
“I think you’re always doing that to somebody,” he added. “That person may change or those people may change.”
Encarnacion has been the designated hitter for the past two games with Adam Lind playing first base.
The change was made just before Wednesday’s game because Encarnacion had spasms in his upper back.
“It felt a lot better today so I’m ready to go,” Encarnacion said.
“I felt a lot better at the plate.”
“He’s one of the top sluggers in the game,” Gibbons noted. “Got off to a slow start, then he kicked it in.”
Cleveland, meanwhile, dropped to 4-10 when facing a left-handed starter, including 0-8 on the road, this season.
Happ opened the season on the disabled list with a sore back and began pitching from the bullpen on his return.
Casey Janssen, who also started the season on the disabled list, pitched the ninth for his second save.
Elsewhere in the AL, Minnesota edged Boston 4-3 (10 innings), Baltimore nipped Kansas City 2-1, and L.A. topped Tampa Bay 6-5.
Over in the NL, St. Louis beat Chicago 5-3, San Francisco downed Miami 6-4, Milwaukee nipped Pittsburgh 4-3, and Cincinnati split a doubleheader with San Diego, winning the first game 5-0 before losing the nightcap 6-1.
The N.Y. Yankees blanked the N.Y. Mets 1-0 in the lone interleague game.