Blue Jays drop another to the Angels


39. Final. 4. 102. 3

Another affair where the Jays couldn’t pull out a win in a close game. 4 of their last 5 losses have come via 2 runs or less. A combination of inconsistent offence, bullpen issues, and a lack of late inning runs have all played a factor, but it’s a concerning trend that needs to stop if the Jays want to see themselves in a playoff race.

Drew Hutchison was given his first loss of the season; going 6.2 IP, giving up 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, and notching 5 K’s. His line doesn’t exactly mirror the way he pitched tonight. After essentially issuing an intentional walk to Mike Trout, Steve Delabar came in and allowed 2 of Hutchison’s 4 ER after he left the game, failing to get Marc Krauss out.

Allowing inherited runners to score has been a huge issue for the Jays this year, and it needs to improve, but John Gibbons didn’t exactly give his staff the best opportunity to exit unscathed. In a one run ball game, it’s typical to see both a LHP and RHP up in the bullpen, giving the team favourable match ups against both righties and lefties late in the game. Aaron Loup, the Jays best pitcher against left handed hitters, wasn’t warm in that particular situation and it came back to haunt the Jays. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but there’s no questioning he should have been the guy to pitch to the left handed hitting Krauss in that situation.

Hutchison’s velocity looks good early, sitting 92-94 and touching 95 multiple times. His velocity has been consistently moving upwards throughout the year, averaging 94.98 mph with his 4-seam on May 9th against the Red Sox, and sitting 93.73 mph in his last start in Houston on the 14th. Those are his two highest totals this year, and are much higher than at the start of the year, when he sat at 91.38 and 90.73 respectively in his first two starts against the Yankees and Orioles at the beginning of April. The chart from Brooks Baseball below shows you how his velocity has been going up, and that seemed to continue tonight. This will be important to watch in future starts, as his velocity plays a large role in his success.

Interestingly, the uptick in velocity has coincided with a better walk rate. Those two starts where his fastball velocity was the highest, he only walked 2 batters over 11 innings. It could simply be a matter of Hutchison finding his groove, as the velocity and walk rates are starting to mirror his 2014 totals, and he’s certainly passing the eye test. The velocity looked to be there tonight, he only issued two walks, and he definitely deserved a better fate tonight.

He did lose the zone in the 4th inning and had some trouble locating the 4-seam. He loaded the bases with none out after two singles and a HBP. He got David Freese to strikeout on a 3-2 fastball at 94 mph up in the zone, but walked Matt Joyce in the next AB scoring the Angels first run. Despite the bases loaded walk, Hutchison bore down and minimized damage by getting C.J. Cron and Carlos Perez to pop-up. The next inning he made a mistake to Trout, something you don’t want to do, as he deposited the mistake into the centre field bleachers.

Excellent job by the bottom of the Jays lineup, well not really the bottom – but hitters outside of the big four, to drive in runs. Chris Colabello, Ezequiel Carrera, and Danny Valencia got back-to-back-to-back hits with 2 outs in the 4 to drive in 3 runs.

Colabello and Carrera have been pleasant surprises at the plate since being called up. Slashing .357/.410/.500 and .289/.364/.368 respectively, and producing wRC+’s of 155 and 106. You can’t complain with what they’ve done at the plate thus far.

Credit must be given to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion for getting the rally started by working two walks against the stingy Weaver. It’s good to see your best hitters still finding a way to get one when they’re not doing so by putting the ball in play. However, back-to-back choppers that didn’t get past the pitchers mound in the 8th inning left much to be desired when the team needed their best hitters to come up big in the late innings.

Russell Martin was phenomenal behind the plate tonight, both receiving the ball and blocking the ball. A number of times he moved to his right to get his body in front of sliders and changeups that Hutchison was yanking to his arm side. It’s scary to think about where this staff would be without the terrific work of Martin this year.

The fourth game of the series goes tomorrow evening, featuring R.A. Dickey and Matt Shoemaker. The Jays really need this one, dropping 3 of 4 at home after a four game sweep is bad news.

B. In terms of stuff, I liked what I saw from Hutchison tonight. The velocity seemed to be there, the slider looked good and I generally thought he looked sharp throughout his 6.2 IP. By no means was he dominant; he lost the zone in the fourth, and made a mistake to Trout resulting in 2 of his 4 ER, but his overall line takes a big hit when Delabar allows two inherited runners to score. You can’t place all the blame on Delabar, but you’d like to see your bullpen help out the starter. Ultimately, I think Hutchison out-pitched his line and deserved a better fate.. . . STARTING PITCHING

C. Outside of the 3-run fourth inning, there wasn’t much life from the Jays offence tonight. As mentioned above, excellent job by the trio of Colabello, Carrera and Valencia to drive in runs with two outs, and credit needs to be given Bautista and Edwin for getting it started by working walks, but 5 base hits and zero AB’s with runners in scoring position after the fourth inning won’t get it done night in and night out, especially with the pitching the Jays are receiving from their staff.. . . OFFENCE

. RELIEF PITCHING . B. <a href=.