ST. LOUIS – Cubs rookie Ian Happ thought he had his first big-league hit in the fifth inning. Even veteran Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina believed it enough that he rolled the to the Cubs dugout for Happ.
Instead, the sharp grounder past the first baseman went for an error.
But two innings later the No. 9 overall draft pick in 2015 made sure no scorer’s decision was necessary – driving Cards ace Carlos Martinez’s last pitch of the day into the right field seats at Busch Stadium for a two-out, two-run homer Saturday.
The Cubs’ No. 2-ranked prospect by Baseball America was reluctant to speak too highly of his major-league debut Saturday after the Cubs lost 5-3 to the rival Cardinals.
But, he acknowledged, “It was a fun day. Losing stinks. There’s no fun way to lose. But to be in there, to be around these guys, to be part of it was definitely fun.”
Happ, who was called up because of a series of minor injuries to regulars, started in right field and batted second Saturday. He struck out in his first at-bat and walked the next time up.
He was one of four Cubs’ first-round picks in Saturday’s lineup, including Javy Baez (No. 9 in 2011), Albert Almora Jr. (No. 6 in 2012) and Kyle Schwarber (No. 4 in 2014).
Happ is the fifth Cub in the last decade to homer in his big-league debut, joining Kosuke Fukudome (2008), Starlin Castro (2010), Javy Baez (2014) and Jorge Soler (2014).
Teammate Willson Contreras homered in his first big-league at-bat last year, but it came in his second game.