Opener goes without hitch for Hutchison, Blue Jays

Opener goes without hitch for Hutchison, Blue Jays

Opener goes without hitch for Hutchison, Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Drew Hutchison needed to give the Blue Jays' bullpen a lift with a solid start on Monday. And he did.

The right-hander held the Orioles to three hits and no runs while striking out nine over seven innings, and the Blue Jays ended a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory.

"Just an outstanding job, and really on a night when we needed the starter to go deep into the game," manager John Farrell said.

Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson each hit a two-run homer to lead the Blue Jays' attack and give their 21-year-old starter all the support he needed.

Hutchison showed more on his fastball than he has all season, and he threw his four-seamer more.

"Probably the best fastball in terms of power that he showed throughout the course of the season," Farrell said.

"I just kind of let it go," Hutchison said. "I'm not going to say I didn't worry about throwing strikes, but I just let it go."

Johnson, who missed the two previous games with a sore hamstring, also hit two doubles and ended with three RBIs.

The Blue Jays' bullpen had been overworked in recent games, but Hutchison (4-2) gave them a break, rebounding from a four-inning start in a loss to the Rays on May 22.

"I was just able to go out there and compete," Hutchison said. "I was pretty upset with the way I performed the last time out and was looking forward to this start tonight."

The bullpen was particularly overused against the Rangers, and as a result, the Blue Jays ran a shuttle between Triple-A Las Vegas and Arlington, Texas, to try to keep fresh arms in the bullpen.

Brandon Morrow lasted only two-thirds of an inning in Texas on Friday in a 14-3 loss, and Kyle Drabek was removed after three innings in Sunday's 12-6 loss. In between was an 8-7 loss in 13 innings that further stretched the bullpen.

"Coming off the stretch that we've come through, every additional inning by a starter just allows us or affords us the potential to rest another guy on a given night when we've been taxed in the bullpen," Farrell said.

Hutchison did not put extra pressure on himself to go deeper into the game.

"You expect to go out there and do that every time," he said. "There's no pressure, you just try to go deep like you always do."

The important thing is that he found his elusive release point.

"I was able to find my release point tonight and got in a rhythm," he said. "I found my release point for the first time this year, I think. That definitely had a lot to do with it."

"Hutchison was good, real good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You can see why they think so highly of him. He had great command of his fastball tonight, I thought that was the difference."

"He's good, the ball was sharp," Johnson said. "And he was hitting his spots, and he has that deceptive cross-body [delivery], and when he's keeping it down and hitting the corners like that, he's good all day long."

The Blue Jays scored six runs, five earned, on nine hits in three-plus innings against Orioles starter Tommy Hunter (2-3).

"The cutters in weren't in, the fastballs in to the lefties kept coming back over the middle of the plate," Hunter said. "When that happens, professional hitters, they take advantage of it pretty quick."

The Blue Jays scored in the first inning when Johnson doubled and scored on Colby Rasmus' single. Johnson has now reached base in 20 consecutive games.

"It almost is fitting -- he doubles in his first at-bat, and we're pressed to send him home on the base hit to right field," Farrell said. "So he tested [the hamstring] right away."

Toronto tacked on a run in the second on singles by David Cooper and Jeff Mathis, a sacrifice by Omar Vizquel and an RBI groundout by Johnson.

After the Orioles left the bases loaded in the third, an error by Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis allowed Jose Bautista to reach base, and he scored on Encarnacion's 16th homer of the season.

Vizquel led off the fourth with a single, the 2,848th hit of his career, tying him with Brooks Robinson for 43rd on the all-time list. He scored on Johnson's ninth homer of the season.

Hunter was then replaced by left-hander Dana Eveland.

The Orioles scored two runs in the ninth inning on four hits off reliever Francisco Cordero. Wilson Betemit singled in one run and Mark Reynolds doubled in another before Casey Janssen was brought into the game to pick up his fourth save.

But it was a good start to a six-game homestand against division rivals Baltimore and Boston.

"Obviously, when you get humbled a little bit like we did in Texas, you want to come back and get on track," Johnson said. "And with Drew pitching like he did and the offense scoring some runs and getting a lot of hits, it was a good win and good way to start the homestand."

Larry Millson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.