Hutchison on cruise control in second shutout

Right-hander whiffs 8, allows four hits in latest dominant outing

Hutchison on cruise control in second shutout

TORONTO -- Drew Hutchison got off to a well-documented slow start this season, but he appears to have turned things around lately and arguably was better than ever during Monday's 6-0 victory over the White Sox.

Hutchison picked up the second shutout of his career after limiting Chicago to four hits in a dominating performance. He didn't walk a batter and allowed just one runner to reach scoring position on a night when he made everything look easy.

The outing continued a recent trend that has seen Hutchison get things back on track after an almost nightmarish month of April. In Hutchison's mind, all of the success goes back to an outing against the Astros on May 14, when he allowed two runs over six innings during a win over Houston.

"I think it started with my fastball command that night," said Hutchison, whose other shutout came on May 16, 2014, at Texas. "I was able to get down and away, real consistent, and the last few innings in that game, I found my slider. I feel like I've done a good job of repeating that, making better pitches, executing quality pitches in the zone."

Hutchison's ERA hit an all-time high when it reached 7.47 following a 10-7 loss to the Indians on May 3. Since then, he has allowed two runs or fewer in all but one of his four starts and is becoming the pitcher Toronto thought he would be when Hutchison was announced the Opening Day starter during Spring Training.

That's welcome news for a starting rotation that has struggled all season but has been showing signs of life lately. Toronto has received at least six innings from its starters in seven consecutive games, and that trend will need to continue if the Blue Jays want to make some noise in the American League East.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has seen Hutchison on the top of his game multiple times over the past two seasons. There was last year's shutout in Texas, there was an outing against the Orioles on Aug. 6, 2014, when he came within one out of a complete-game victory, and a gutty hard-fought win over Philadelphia, when he survived a grand slam to toss eight innings on May 6, 2014

For all the highlights, though, his outing against the White Sox might have been his best yet.

"He was sick tonight, too, and sometimes you have your best games when you're not feeling so good," Gibbons said of Hutchison, who has struck out 28 batters over his last 26 2/3 innings.

"He was really hitting on everything, he had a good exploding fastball, some good breaking balls, mixed in some good changeups. So he had them swinging, he was hitting the zone and I don't know if he even broke a sweat tonight. That's one of those games where it's nice to sit back and watch because he was in total control."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.