Drew Hutchison rebounds to lead Blue Jays to ninth straight win
Jose Bautista hit his 27th homer of the season while Drew Hutchison pitched into the eighth inning for just the third time this season.
While the Blue Jays were in New York City this past weekend, an article in the New York Post caught the eye of manager John Gibbons. It was about Noah Syndergaard, the former Jays’ prospect and current Mets’ pitching stud who got roughed up a bit against the Tampa Bay Rays. But the part that intrigued Gibbons was a reference to Al Jackson —the Mets’ pitching coach during Gibbons’ playing days in New York — and his advice to young pitchers.
“See all these young guys,” Jackson is quoted as saying in the article, “they put more into it, when they should be putting less into it and hitting their spots. That’s more important than an extra mile or two on the radar gun.”
It was the same point Gibbons had been trying to make to struggling starter Drew Hutchison, who he felt had been trying to ramp up his fastball when he got into trouble rather than dialing it back to locate it more precisely. Gibbons shared the article with Hutchison and told him to consider it.
The 24-year-old right-hander seemed to take the message to heart Tuesday night as he put together one of his best outings of the season to lead the Jays to their ninth straight victory.
Jose Bautista also homered for the fourth time in his last six games as the Jays beat the Oakland A’s 4-2 in front of an announced crowd of 39,381 — a remarkable attendance figure for a Tuesday night against a last-place team.
The Jays have now won 12 of their last 13 games and are 17-6 since the all-star break. Tuesday also marks the first time in franchise history they have had two nine-game winning streaks in a single season.
While the team’s high-octane offence has rightfully garnered most of the attention this season, improved pitching has been the driving force during this late-season surge. Since the all-star break, the Jays’ staff owns the best ERA in the American League and trail only the St. Louis Cardinals across the majors. On their current winning streak the Jays have outscored their opponents 45-17, which reflects how strong their pitching and defence have been. Tuesday marked the 15th consecutive game in which their starting pitcher allowed three or fewer earned runs.
The one persistent weak link, however, has been Drew Hutchison, who has struggled badly over the last two months. Tuesday’s game should quiet those concerns at least for a few days. Hutchison received a lengthy ovation as he walked off the mound in the eighth inning following a lead-off single.
“Good for him,” Gibbons said afterward. “He’s been kind of the whipping boy around here lately. To step up like that, it’s big.”
Hutchison pitched into the eighth inning for just the third time this season and first since May 25. More importantly, he stayed composed, weathered a few storms and didn’t try to muscle his way out of jams.
“I thought I stayed under control really well,” he said. “You get into situations sometimes you want to get out of it so bad you try to do a little bit too much instead of taking the foot off the gas a little bit and executing pitches.”
This is the kind of roll the Jays are on at the moment: even their struggling players are finding ways to right the ship. It’s hard to overstate the level of confidence in the team’s clubhouse right now.
The much-heralded trade-deadline acquisitions of David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe and Ben Revere have given the club an injection of talent, but also a palpable emotional boost. “Our bullpen’s better, our starters are better and believe it or not, I feel like our lineup’s better, too,” catcher Russell Martin said before Tuesday’s game. “Now our team is as complete as you could possibly have it. We feel solid. We don’t feel like we have any weakness right now.”
Read more at: http://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2015/08/11/drew-hutchison-rebounds-to-lead-blue-jays-to-ninth-straight-win.html