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J.A. Happ clinches 100th career win

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The Blue Jays celebrated their first back-to-back win since May 1 on Friday night, taking down the Orioles 5-1 and backing J.A. Happ for the southpaw’s 100th career win. The left-hander rattled off seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball in his seventh quality start of the season; beyond Trey Mancini‘s run-scoring force out in the second inning, Happ didn’t allow a single runner past second base.

Happ has yet to replicate the 3.53-ERA, 2.9-fWAR totals of yesteryear, but he’s been a steady presence in the Jays’ rotation with a 7-3 record in 12 starts and a 4.08 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 across 70 2/3 innings in 2018. He’s also benefitted from a generous helping of run support — leading up to Friday’s win over Baltimore, Happ enjoyed an average of 6.81 runs of support per start (including three double-digit blowouts).

That run support was on full display with a trifecta of home runs from Russell Martin, Randal Grichuk and Kevin Pillar. Martin tacked on another RBI single in the sixth, while Teoscar Hernandez returned in the seventh with an RBI triple, his fifth of the year. Thanks to a strong showing from the offense, Happ earned membership in yet another exclusive (and oddly specific) club:

That may not be enough consolation for the team’s fanbase, however. Following their win, the Blue Jays have still only clinched three of their last 10 games and currently sit fourth in the AL East with a 28-35 record.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.