TORONTO — The rest of baseball hasn’t had much trouble figuring out Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison this season, but when he pitches against the Baltimore Orioles, Hutchison has been nearly unhittable.
A day after chasing Toronto’s best pitcher — 11-game winner Mark Buehrle — from the game after just four innings and plating nine runs in a series-opening win over Toronto, the Orioles struggled against a masterful Hutchison in a 5-1 loss on Wednesday night in front of an announced 33,054 at Rogers Centre.
Hutchison recorded one of his most dominating starts of the season, holding the Orioles to just one hit over 82 / 3 innings, ending his outing by retiring 22 of the final 23 batters he faced.
The loss snapped the Orioles’ modest three-game winning streak, but also allowed the second-place Blue Jays to climb back within four games of Baltimore’s American League East division lead.
The Orioles (64-49) had scored 33 runs — along with 48 hits — in their first four games at Rogers Centre this season, but they managed just two base runners and didn’t place a runner in scoring position on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (61-54) plated all five of their runs with two outs, making it a frustrating night for Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (12-4), whose five-start winning streak was snapped.
The Orioles’ only offense against Hutchison came on Chris Davis’s mammoth opposite-field home run in the top of the second inning, a blast that landed in the second deck of the left-field seats.
It was Davis’s second homer is as many days, marking the first time he has homers in back-to-back games in nearly a year. It was also Davis’s 24th career home run against the Blue Jays, his most against any opponent and his 20th against Toronto since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Otherwise, an Orioles offense that plated 16 runs over its previous two games fell flat.
“There’s going to be times when there’s a pitcher who is on top of his game, and that’s what happened tonight,” Davis said.
Hutchison (8-9) recorded his best start in nearly two months — since he last faced the Orioles on June 13 in Baltimore and blanked the Orioles with seven shutout innings.
Hutchison, who owns a 5.29 ERA against all teams besides Baltimore this season, has allowed just three runs over 342 / 3 innings in his last five starts against the Orioles, pitching to a 0.79 ERA. He has posted scoreless outings in four of his last five starts against the O’s.
“You approach them all the same, and your game plan is the same way,” Hutchison said about his success against the Orioles. “I have just had good success against them.”
The Blue Jays jumped on Chen early in a 28-pitch first inning, scoring runs on back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Dioner Navarro and Danny Valencia to take a 2-0 lead. Toronto didn’t batter Chen with hard-hit balls that inning despite four hits and a walk — Navarro hit a bloop opposite-field single to right and Valencia followed with a seeing-eye single to left that bounced between third baseman Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy.
Davis then brought the Orioles within a run in the top of the second, muscling a 2-2 pitch from Hutchison into the second deck in left field, a powerful opposite-field shot reminiscent of last year’s 53-homer season.
But the Blue Jays answered in the bottom half of the second on Jose Bautista’s two-run homer off Chen following Melky Cabrera’s two-out double. Bautista later plated another run on a two-out double in the sixth inning off reliever T.J. McFarland.
Chen’s pitch count escalated quickly after the Blue Jays worked some deep counts against the left-hander, including one 10-pitch at bat and another 12-pitch at bat. The four runs he allowed — all in the first two innings — were the most he’s yielded since allowing five runs in his last loss on June 28 in a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay.
Hutchison retired 22 straight following Davis’s homer and was one out from a one-hit complete game before walking Nick Markakis with two outs in the ninth. He was pulled from the game following that plate appearance after his 115th pitch, walking off the field to a standing ovation before Casey Janssen recorded the final out of the night.
— Baltimore Sun