Blue Jays ride Hutchison’s strong start to victory


The Toronto Blue Jays moved back to .500 on Friday with a win over the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays. Starter Drew Hutchison found his groove early and allowed just two earned runs on five hits over six innings strong. The offense, led by Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak, gave Hutchison all the help he needed.

This win couldn’t come at a better time for the Blue Jays as they not only begin to hunt down the New York Yankees in the AL East, but work to convince general manager Alex Anthopoulos that their roster is worthy of a big addition. Consistency will continue to be the issue, but tonight’s version of the Blue Jays looked like a playoff ball club.

39. Final. 2. 21. 6

Game Notes:

Leadoff walks to

Jose Reyes

and Josh Donaldson put the Blue Jays in a high-potential position to begin the game, but they failed to capitalize.

Jake Odorizzi

isn’t often that generous, and

Jose Bautista

‘s failure to advance a runner threw a wrench into the inning.

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Hutchison’s changeup was working wonders from the word “go”, especially down and away from left-handed hitters. Going forward, increased use of this pitch could also greatly benefit his fastball.

  • Grady Sizemore caught a hanging fastball from Hutch in the third and sent it deep to center, giving Tampa the early 1-0 lead.
  • It’s the Summer of Smoak! The slugger notched Toronto’s first hit in the fourth with a line-drive double to the right-field wall. After a Russell Martin single moved him over, Chris Colabello would bring him in on a deep sac fly to tie the game at one.
  • Josh Donaldson squashed any concern that the Home Run Derby would throw off his swing. The Bringer of Rain launched an opposite field two-run shot in the fifth to put the Jays ahead 3-1.

    Smoak kicked in the door and ended Odorizzi’s night later in the inning with a three-run bomb to left.  It’s safe to assume that he’s going to get those regular at-bats that he’s long earned.

  • Kevin Kiermaier did his best Kevin Pillar impression in the seventh to rob Donaldson of extra bases. It will show as a zero on the scorecard, but Donaldson blasted that pitch and was simply met with a better defensive play.
  • The bullpen took over for Hutchison in the seventh, with Bo Schultz and Roberto Osuna combining to throw three innings of no-hit ball. This game was easy viewing from beginning to end.
  • We so often hear “pay the man” in sports, but how about “play the man”!?  Smoak went 2-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBI, earning some more looks at the heart of the lineup going forward. This isn’t good for <strong><a href=. Game Ball. <strong>Justin Smoak</strong>. OFFENSE . A-

    <strong>Drew Hutchison</strong>. STARTING PITCHER. A. This was a fantastic step forward for Hutchison, and hopefully a sign of things to come in the second half. I was surprised, however, that Gibbons chose to lift him after just 6.0 innings and 85 pitches. Perhaps it was a “sell high” decision with a fresh bullpen behind him.<p>Hutchison’s changeup was fantastic throughout and his fastball had more life than in previous starts. Pounding the zone caused his breaking pitches to force swings often, and Hutch finally seemed like he was in control, not the batter. Of course, we’ll need to see the same performance on the road, but this was a very welcome first step.</p>.

    Bo Schultz entered in the seventh and pitched extremely well, further convincing me that he’s worth a shot in more high-leverage situations. He struck out four in two innings and was trusted by Gibbons to bridge the gap to closer Roberto Osuna.<p>Osuna was Osuna, and as always, it was a beautiful sight. He’s proved that he is more than just a capable closer, he’s dominant. Osuna will be just fine in that role should he be asked to stay, which should allow Anthopoulos to focus in on other areas as the deadline nears.</p>. Game Ball. <b>Schultz, Osuna</b>. BULLPEN . A+

    Next: Trade deadline rumors: Is anyone truly untouchable?

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