After winning 11 of their last 12, the Toronto Blue Jays returned home for a six game home stand starting with the labouring Oakland Athletics. Starting for the Jays was the often (always) inconsistent Drew Hutchison and he followed true to 2015 form Tuesday night. This time it was for the better.
Hutchison was exceptional, pitching seven plus innings giving the Jays exactly what they needed when they weren’t hitting multiple home runs into the seats of the packed Rogers Centre.
- Starting in the first inning, Hutchison did what Hutchison does: He nibbled after getting ahead in the strike zone. After walking one, he was almost saved by Josh Donaldson‘s uncharacteristic play while shifting to the right side of second base. Donaldson quickly fired to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki but was just late in getting it back to first for the inning ending double play. The Athletics made the Jays pay for it as Danny Valencia capitalized on a down-the-middle fastball by Hutchison for a two-out, one-run, double to centre field.
- After an uneventful and unsuccessful bottom half, Jose Bautista bailed out his pitcher with a diving catch to end the second inning, saving what could have been extra bases.
- Carrying that over into the home-half, Chris Colabello started the inning off with a double to left-centre. Russell Martin followed by grounding out to shortstop Marcus Semien who conveniently threw it wide of first base, allowing Colabello to score.
- Justin Smoak, hot off his Yankee Stadium grand slam, followed suit with a RBI double of his own, making it 2-1 Jays. In Oakland A’s fashion, Kevin Pillar reached base on an error committed by Eric Sogard. There’s a reason they lead the league in unearned runs with 48.
- Ryan Goins made Sogard and the A’s pay for the error, hitting a soft grounder to Sogard who had no option but to throw to first for the first out of the second inning while driving in a run.
- The Athletics answered back in the top of the third with back to back singles by Sogard and Billy Burns before Coco Crisp fortuitously grounded into a double-play. Hutchison managed to induce a ground ball from Josh Reddick and just like that he was out of the inning on eight pitches.
- Hutchison seemed to find himself in a groove of sorts in the 4th as he retired the A’s in order with strikeouts to Valencia and Lawrie on nasty diving sliders reminiscent of his second half in 2014.
- Similarly, Hutchison allowed a one-out walk to Semien but pitched around it to hold the A’s scoreless once again.
- Kendall Graveman did a good job at settling in against the intimidating Jays lineup until he hung a 5th inning curveball to one of the most dangerous hitters in the game: Jose Bautista. Joey Bats drove the ball into the second deck for a solo-bomb, his 27th of the year. Colabello effectively ended Graveman’s night a batter later as he drove a single into left field for his second hit of the night.
- Meanwhile Hutchison continued to cruise, needing just six pitches to retire the A’s in the top of the 6th inning.
- After allowing a single to start the 8th inning, manager John Gibbons turned to Aaron Sanchez for relief. Unfortunately, he allowed his inherited run to score, making it 4-2 and closing Hutchison’s line with seven plus innings pitched, four hits, two walks, six strikeouts and two earned runs.
- Sanchez would eventually settle down and retire the A’s before turning it over to Roberto Osuna who closed out the victory with a minor hiccup in the form of a double.
It’s a shame the Jays don’t get this from Drew Hutchison every time he’s out. Maybe that’s not realistic. If it were, he’d be solidified ace and among the best pitchers in the game.
With that said, it behooves Jays fans to look at the most recent manifestation of Drew Hutchison. It was incredible. In total, Hutchison lasted seven plus innings allowing four hits, two earned runs (although one was mostly Aaron Sanchez’s responsibility) with two walks and six strikeouts. Hutchison was only given 82 pitches for some odd reason with 59 of them going for strikes. Realistically, John Gibbons could have very easily rode out the hot handed Hutchison for the win tonight but elected to hand it over to Aaron Sanchez.
For Hutchison, Tuesday marked just the third time this season that he’s pitched past the 7th inning. Obviously those reading this won’t be overly surprised by that. The positive takeaway for Hutchison is clearly his ability to command his fastball while putting away hitters without nibbling around the strike zone. Hutchison exhibited good command of his hard slider while mixing in his running changeup to keep hitters off balance.
Tonight was a big night in the debate over Hutchison’s presence in the future rotation. Clearly, he wants to stay.
Roberto Osuna was phenomenal once again. He came in for the two-run close and started off with a strikeout to Valencia before promptly giving up a double to right-field off the bat of Stephen Vogt. That didn’t deter him from his mission as he got Brett Lawrie to fly out before striking out Ike Davis to earn his 11th save of the season.
This nightly award could easily have been given to Jose Bautista. After all, he did smash a home-run to left field to make it 4-1. However, Chris Colabello was simply better.
On the night, Colabello was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single before being lifted for pinch runner Cliff Pennington. With his night, Colabello has brought his line up to an easily respectable .325/.362/.494. It seems the Jays made a solid decision in keeping Colabello in Toronto and letting Valencia walk away.
Outside of Colabello, the Jays offensive core brought their daily dose of excitement. Although they only homered once tonight, the Jays managed six hits and one walk, generating most of their production through the Athletics’s defensive miscues.