Oct. 14 J.A. Happ pregame interview

Oct. 14 J.A. Happ pregame interview

Q. There's been so much talk about what happened in Pittsburgh last year to change the approach you've taken and how this season has unfolded, but surely there's got to be more to it than that. How do you view what's happened this year as compared to what's happened the rest of your career?

J.A. HAPP: I think the biggest thing is just, you know, I always felt like I could be a more consistent pitcher. And over my career I've shown months of it, but not as much full seasons of it. And I think this year I was able to put a string together where it ended up being a good year for me.

Like I say, I've had periods in the past. I think the end of '14, the beginning of '15 I felt real good about how I was throwing the ball. I think I was just able to try to fix a few things mechanically and just keep a different mindset that I think has helped me kind of continue through this entire year.

Q. You touched on the mindset. You hear so much about baseball being such a mental game. How much better are you now mentally as a pitcher as you were five, six years ago?

J.A. HAPP: Yeah, I like to think I have a little better perspective now as far as things I can control and things I can't, and as far as the results that I'm getting. So confidence is a huge thing. Obviously having success helps your confidence. They play off each other that way. So just trying to stay kind of right where I'm at.

Q. How much do you think the Blue Jays infield defense has helped you this year, especially with how many ground balls you've been getting?

J.A. HAPP: Yeah, that's been a little different. I've gotten more ground balls than in the past, with the introduction of the two-seam fastball, and playing on the turf and having those guys behind me has helped tremendously. That's something I'm aware of out there, too, our outfield and our entire defense is solid. Gives our starting staff the confidence to go out there and be aggressive. And that definitely helps.

Q. Talking about the increase in confidence in year to year. Coming off that last start in Texas, is that a game that maybe in the past does get away? You stranded a ton of guys in there. Is that a game that -- you only gave up one run and you got a win, but it was a high-stress win. Is that something that you look back at as this is something I've got to bounce back from and be better or what do you do with that last start?

J.A. HAPP: Yeah, you know, the flip side is that it's the game of baseball, a hit here or there in that outing turns around. Certainly you don't want to give up nine hits in five innings. I felt like I could keep going, I felt like I had another inning in me, at least.

In that particular game, in the past, it could have been a situation where it was even shorter than that, definitely. I think the ability just to stay positive within the situation and realize I can get out of an inning with a big double play ball or a strikeout or whatever it might be, my focus is a little more I guess just better, just in the moment a little bit better.

Q. What is it with a pitcher like yourself where you don't have the same kind of velocity as some of these guys that are out there? Does it take a little longer to put it together and does it just take time and opportunity in a way that if you had the 98 mile an hour fastball, that it just comes easier to those guys, and maybe you just need a little more time to reach the level that you need to be, and it takes that mental side of the game that takes time?

J.A. HAPP: I don't think so. You learn how to pitch with whatever you have. And there's plenty of guys who have had success from the beginning with similar stuff to me. My case might just be unique that for whatever reason it took the path that I took. Like I say, you learn to pitch with your stuff. And you know pretty quick whether you're able to stay at this level or not.

Q. In Toronto what is your sense of the level of hunger for the team's fans, for a championship?

J.A. HAPP: Yeah, that was a big reason I came back. I always felt like the city would really be incredible if we could get to that playoff run. And then being last year and seeing it, how the city responded and being part of it this year is tremendous. I was fortunate my first couple of years with Philadelphia to go to a couple of World Series, and I experienced kind of that atmosphere there. And after not being in the playoff hunt for the next several years you're just that much more anxious to feel that again. And it's been everything that I've been waiting for.

Q. It isn't often you see a pitching staff where you don't know who the No. 1 starter is and the No. 2 and the 3 and the 4. You guys are almost interchangeable. What's it like to pitch on that kind of staff and how unusual is it?

J.A. HAPP: You're right, I think it is unusual. We don't really care, I don't think. Whenever it's your day you've got to be the ace that day no matter what, anyway.

I feel like our team and our coaches and everybody feels confident with whoever is out there for us. We don't really worry about who's labeled an ace and who's not. But we certainly feel good about who we've got going out there.