Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 5 Pitching Performances of 2015

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Sep 4, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher

J.A. Happ

(32) throws the ball against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

#4) September 4 – J.A. Happ vs St. Louis Cardinals

Game Score: 79

The final score (9-3 Pirates) makes the game seem a bit more lopsided than it really was as J.A. Happ left with a 4-0 lead after turning in 7 shutout innings, striking out 8 and walking none. Happ – who was making just his 6th start with the Pirates – ended up being one of the unlikely heroes down the stretch and in the opening game of a weekend series, he went into St. Louis and shut down the National League Central Division champs.

Happ opened up his outing by allowing a single to Steven Piscotty with one out and then a wild pitch that moved him over to second. And that would be all the Cardinals could manage to do against Happ. After retiring Jason Heyward and Jhonny Peralta to end the 1st inning, he didn’t allow another baserunner to reach second base.

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His performance was a laborious one that saw Happ throw 110 pitches in 7 innings but none of them ever came with any sort of pressure. The Pirates gave him the lead before he even took the mound and the 4 runs of run support were more than enough for Happ. Luckily, the offense was able to add some insurance and give the bullpen some margin for error.

The 8 strikeouts kind of snuck up on Happ as he wasn’t particularly overpowering but he got into a groove from the 3rd inning through the 6th inning that the Cardinals could not figure out. He retired 13 batters in a row during this streak and 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.

J.A. Happ has since cashed in on his performance in the second half, but this was the game that really opened everyone’s eyes.