07/25/09 12:06 AM ET
Dogged by rumors, Happ proves human
Left-hander roughed up by Redbirds, takes first loss
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Roy Halladay is everywhere.
Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ has heard plenty of it. How could he not? Halladay, whom Toronto could trade to the Phillies before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the Phillies would become the favorite to win the National League should they get him.
But Happ, who allowed 10 hits and five runs in six innings Friday night in an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, has a little more at stake because he could be included in the deal that brings the 2003 American League Cy Young Award winner to Philadelphia.
"I'm trying not to worry about it," Happ said. "But, [I'm a] single guy, live by myself. I have a lot of time to think about stuff. I try not to, but I'm human, so it crosses my mind. Once I'm here and trying to do my thing, I don't think about it."
It is believed the Blue Jays would like Happ, Double-A Reading right-hander Kyle Drabek and either Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Michael Taylor or Class A Clearwater outfielder Dominic Brown in a package for Halladay.
And there is a reason the Blue Jays like Happ.
He is 7-1 with a 2.97 ERA this season. He suffered just the second loss of his career and the first in 32 appearances -- his last coming June 30, 2007. Happ's eight-game win streak tied the Phillies' all-time rookie record with Bob Miller (1950) and Al Orth (1895).
"I never thought I wasn't [human]," Happ said. "It was a good run. I'm looking forward to next time, trying to keep us in the game."
Happ also threw a shutout against the Blue Jays on June 27 in Toronto. Happ has been impressive, and he is a rookie, which means cost-cutting Toronto would get a Major League-ready pitcher for the next several years at a very affordable price.
Happ didn't pitch nearly as poorly as his line indicated Friday. The Cardinals took a one-run lead in the second inning when newly acquired left fielder Matt Holliday reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a fielder's choice and scored on a single from Rick Ankiel.
The score remained 1-0 until the sixth inning. Happ allowed six consecutive hits to start the inning, although three of them were bloop hits.
They counted just the same.
Four runs eventually scored as the Cardinals took a five-run lead.
"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Happ deserves better than the runs that were scored."
Happ's teammates agreed.
"You're not going to win every night, and things aren't going to go your way all the time," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "Unfortunately for J.A., tonight wasn't his night. But you've got to hand it to him. He's been pitching great. He's been pitching deep into games. He's pitched so good for us. He's really saved our bullpen. He's 7-1 now. He's done a great job, especially with all that he's been through the past couple years."
And especially the past couple weeks.
"I've been through that, too," Werth said. "You just keep doing your thing and let that stuff take care of itself. I don't think it's as big a deal as people think it is. But I don't think that had anything to do with him getting bleeded around the yard."
Tyler Walker allowed two runs in the seventh as the Cardinals took a seven-run lead. The Phillies scored their only run in the seventh, but it hardly mattered. The Phillies managed just eight hits. They were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 10 runners on base.
The offense will get more chances.
Happ is scheduled to make his next start Wednesday against the D-backs at Chase Field in Phoenix, but a trade could be made well before then.
Happ is trying not to think about that. He is hoping to stay and continue what looks to be the beginning of a good career.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.