(bisons.com) - J.A. Happ made his first Triple-A rehab start for the Bisons since being hit in the head by a line drive with Toronto in a game on May 7 against Tampa Bay.
A one hour and 19 minute rain delay after four innings stopped Happ's estimated 75-pitch start at 60 pitches, but the left-hander showed he is getting stronger by allowing just one run and striking out three for the Herd.
First baseman Clint Robinson recorded his first hit of the season for the Herd and it was a big one. The first baseman's double off the right field wall gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, leading the Bisons to a 4-1 win over Columbus Tuesday night at Coca-Cola Field.
Happ had his pitch locations going early as he threw his first eight pitches for strikes. He retired the side in order with a strikeout and two groundouts in the first inning.
"I feel good about it," Happ said of his outing. "I felt strong out there. I felt like I could have kept going. Unfortunate with the rain delay, but I was able to go in and get a few more pitches inside."
In the fourth inning, Happ struck out the first batter he faced and then allowed a single and a walk, before getting Ryan Rohlinger to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The left-hander threw 38 of his 60 pitches for strikes before the rain clouds came into downtown Buffalo.
"For the most part I was able to throw strikes, too and I felt like I was overcompensating for anything. That's something that we're definitely paying attention to," Happ said.
Happ also suffered sprained knee ligaments on that night he got hit in the head, but was able to test his knee tonight on a running put-out at first base in the first inning against a speedy baserunner in Ezequiel Carrera.
The 30-year-old pitcher was happy with his movements and felt good about being able to land on his leg without any hesitation while also getting his explosiveness back.
"I liked what I saw," said Bisons manager Marty Brown. "The ball was coming out of his hand good. He kept the ball down for the most part...he stayed ahead of the hitters and used his two-seamer well."
Happ was not sure how many more starts he would need to get back with the Blue Jays, but he has put the frustration of the rehab process behind him. He said his is happy to be back on the mound competing against other players other than himself.
"That's what I need definitely," Happ said of facing tougher hitters. "I always can be a little sharper, especially in that third or fourth inning I started to kind of hone in on what I was needing to do and I was able to throw some better pitches."
Buffalo tied the game at one in the sixth after right fielder Moises Sierra hit his third hit of the game into left field. With Mauro Gomez' batting, Sierra stole second and advanced all the way to home on a throwing error by the Clippers center fielder that went into the stands.
Jeremy Hermida had the first hit for Columbus with a double to center field and scored the first run after two-straight ground balls as the Clippers led 1-0 after the second inning.
Mauro Gomez hit his IL-leading 27th home run of the season to provide insurance runs as the Herd went into the top of the ninth up 4-1 on Columbus. The clean-up hitter extended his hitting streak to 10 games with the homer.
Sierra went 3-for-4 with two runs scored on the night while Gomez also scored two runs.
The Herd's bullpen dominance continued as three pitchers after Happ combined to throw 4.2 innings, allowing no runs and just two hits. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress earned his first win for the Herd.