Hutchison stumbles as Blue Jays settle for split

Hutchison stumbles as Blue Jays settle for split

Hutchison stumbles as Blue Jays settle for split
ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays' four-game series in Southern California began with plenty of promise but ended in disappointment on Sunday afternoon.

Toronto took the opening two games and appeared on the verge of winning a series at Angel Stadium for the first time since 2005. That changed with a pair of consecutive losses, which forced the club to settle for a split.

Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison on Sunday surrendered Albert Pujols' first home run of the season, and the end result was a 4-3 loss to the Angels in front of 37,540 fans at Angel Stadium.

"I don't think we'll ever be satisfied splitting a series when we had a chance to set ourselves up for a series win," said Toronto manager John Farrell, whose team now sits at 16-13.

"They're a very good team, and that's not to take anything away from them or the effort we put forth today. We're going to continue to battle right through the final out of the game."

Starting duties in the series finale went to the rookie Hutchison, who was making just the fourth appearance of his Major League career. His outing started off strong, but he eventually surrendered four runs on eight hits despite not walking a batter for the first time in a big league uniform.

Hutchison got through the first three innings unscathed but pitched his way into some trouble in the fourth. The 21-year-old allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base, which set the table for an RBI single off the bat of Mark Trumbo. Two batters later, Alberto Callaspo added an RBI single to give the Angels a 2-1 lead.

The biggest blow to Hutchison, though, occurred in the fifth. With one on and two outs, Hutchison served up a 2-2 slider that Pujols sent over the wall in left field. It was the third home run Hutchison has allowed this season, and it also marked Pujols' first in 111 at-bats in an Angels uniform.

"It was pretty effective today other than the one I hung," Hutchison said of his slider. "I was trying to bounce it in the dirt and I didn't execute and when you don't execute your pitches things like that happen."

Pujols, who signed a 10-year contract worth $240 million during the offseason, heard boos this week from the hometown crowd. They were heard again in the early stages of Sunday's game, but the jeers quickly turned to a standing ovation by the time the ball left the park.

Pujols' 110 at-bats without a home run to start the season was the longest drought by any player with 400 career homers in Major League history. It was a lengthy wait that Pujols can be glad is finally over.

"I'm blessed to have the opportunity to do it here, in front of the fans," said Pujols, who is hitting .196. "They've been patiently waiting, but obviously, the last couple of days I heard some boos out there, and it's part of it.

"I'm not performing the way everybody expected, but I also know it's not 27 games. You play 162 games. At the end, if you get into the postseason, that's what you play for."

The Blue Jays weren't able to generate much offense against Los Angeles right-hander Jerome Williams. Eric Thames had an RBI single in the third, and Edwin Encarnacion added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, but that was it until a prolonged rally in the seventh.

An error by Pujols on what could have been a double play put runners on the corners with just one out. Kelly Johnson followed with an RBI single to pull Toronto within one, but Thames and Jose Bautista were retired in order to end the threat. Williams allowed three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts.

Toronto's final chance to rally occurred in the eighth. With one on and nobody out, Encarnacion hit a high popup in the infield. Rajai Davis was attempting to steal on the play and slid into second without realizing the ball had been caught.

Davis was easily doubled off to put an end to the threat. The Angels finished off the inning and LaTroy Hawkins came on in the ninth to replace an injured Scott Downs and end the game.

"My focus was to get closer to home, steal the base," Davis said. "Honestly, everything else went blank. I was focused on one thing and wasn't able to do that.

"I thought something was up, then my next thing is to pick up the coach. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to relay those signs very well. It just didn't work out in our favor."

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