You won’t be able to tell from looking at his final pitching line, but 21 year-old Drew Hutchison acquitted himself very well in his major-league debut for the Blue Jays, and he definitely looks like a keeper.
Hutchison was unflappable in allowing five runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, walking three, striking out four, hitting one and giving up two home runs.
The line’s not pretty, to be sure. That’s a WHIP of 1.875 and an ERA of 8.44. But Hutchison pitched a lot better than that line.
Over the first four innings of his night, he gave up just one run on three hits, two of which were ground balls. The other, not so much, as Alex Gordon took him deep in the first inning. He breezed through those first four innings, throwing just 60 pitches and looking completely comfortable with his lot in life as a 21 year-old major-leaguer, but the fifth inning was a separate issue.
Hutchison faced seven hitters in that fifth inning and only got two of them out, but only two of the other five managed to hit the ball hard. The Royals scored four times, but a broken-bat double and a bloop single played a big part in the big inning for K.C. Believe it or not, Hutchison also should have had a triple play behind him that inning. It’s amazing to say, especially since the Blue Jays turned their first triple play in 33 years the night before, but with runners on first and second, none out and two runs already in, Hutchison got Billy Butler to hit a hard grounder right at Brett Lawrie. If Lawrie picks it clean, he takes two steps to the bag and starts an around-the-horn triple killing. Easy like cake. But he couldn’t handle the hot shot, and when he recovered, he still had time to get two. But for a cleaner hop, the Blue Jays have two triple plays in as many games, incredibly.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty for Hutchison, though the first four innings sure were terrific, but for a 21 year-old making his major-league debut – just his seventh start above A-ball – that’s a very, very good job. And that he was able to hit his spots for the most part, keep his nerves in check and maintain his composure are very good portents, to be sure. Another good omen might well have been his one hit batsman. Hutchison drilled Butler, the Royals’ three-hitter, in the ribcage with a man on second and one out in the third. It may not have been intentional, but Hutchison is a kid with very good command. It just so happens that the Royals drilled Jose Bautista the night before. If that was Hutchison standing up for his teammate, then that speaks volumes about the kid.
There’s a good story to tell about the bullpen, as well. The group that has blown four saves in the first two weeks of the season had a golden opportunity to blow a fifth, as Darren Oliver took over for Hutchison with a one-run lead in the sixth and runners on the corners with just one out. But Oliver, born 20 years before his young charge, got a huge strikeout, then a liner to right that Bautista managed to pick out of the lights, escaping the threat, and Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus went deep in the top of the 7th to extend the lead. For Rasmus, it was his second home run of the game.
Carlos Villanueva closed it out by pitching the final two innings, but when he got in trouble in the 9th it was Francisco Cordero, not Sergio Santos, who started warming up in anticipation of a save opportunity. We found out why after the game when the Blue Jays placed Santos on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, recalling Evan Crawford to take his place. Santos said his shoulder didn’t feel right in saving Friday night’s win, and when the pain got worse Saturday morning the decision was made to shut things down for a while in order to nip any potential issue in the bud. Manager John Farrell says the move is precautionary and the Jays don’t expect Santos to miss a lot of time, but you never know with shoulders. Until Santos returns, Cordero will be the closer and the 8th inning will be shared by Oliver, Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor.
Here’s Saturday night’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Sunday afternoon, the Blue Jays will try to break out of the win two-lose two pattern they’ve established to this point in the season, and they’ll have their ace on the mound as they try to do it. The Jays have yet to lose any of Ricky Romero’s starts this year, and he’ll put his 2-0 mark on the line against Royals’ lefty Danny Duffy. We’ll have it all for you along the Blue Jays Radio Network beginning with the pre-game show at 1:30PM Eastern – join us, won’t you?
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