Slender of build, Drew Hutchison continues to loom large for the Toronto Blue Jays when it comes to going pitch to pitch with some of the elite arms that Major League Baseball has to offer.
He did it last month in Texas against Rangers stalwart Yu Darvish and again on Tuesday night here at Comerica Park where Hutchison added to a budding reputation as a solid No. 3 Major League Baseball starter.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hutchison, working on a couple of days extra rest, turned in a sublime performance in a battle of American League division leaders, allowing no runs on just three hits while striking out seven through seven innings during a 5-3 Toronto victory over the Tigers.
Hutchison also did not walk a batter in what was a compelling pitching battle against Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez., who allowed no runs and just two hits, also over seven innings.
Neither pitcher would factor in the decision in a tight contest where the Blue Jays finally broke through in the ninth inning after Detroit closer Joe Nathan entered the game.
The Blue Jays lit Nathan up for four earned runs, to match his career high, highlighted by a three-run home run by Brett Lawrie that helped lift t Toronto to it’s third consecutive win in the first of a three-game set.
“Went and got the book on him and I saw a pitch I could drive and just barreled it and thankfully enough it got out,” said Lawrie.
The Toronto infielder clubbed his ninth home run off Al Alburquerque who came in to replace the reeling Nathan with two runners aboard and the Blue Jays already having put two runs up on the board.
The Blue Jays (35-24) maintained their grip on first place in the A.L. East by 4 ½ games over the Baltimore Orioles, who leapfrogged over the New York Yankees and into second place with an 8-3 win over Texas.
The Yankees lost for the third straight time, 5-2 to Oakland.
But the story on the night was Hutchison, who held the Blue Jays close until their high-powered offence was finally able to make some noise in the ninth.
Hutchison (4-3, 3.50) was working on a couple of extra days rest after the Blue Jays opted to skip his scheduled start on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals amid concerns he was beginning to show signs of fatigue.
But don’t try suggesting to the 23-year-old that he obviously benefitted from the added rest.
“I feel like I had a good start because I executed quality pitches,” said the 23-year-old, who missed all of last season after having Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow.
It marked the second time in his career that Hutchison has tossed seven or more innings and not allowed a run – the first time back on May 16th in Arlington against the Rangers.
That’s when Hutchison outdueled Darvish, twirling a complete game three-hitter during a 2-0 win.
“The kid’s good,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “That’s what you’ve got to do against the better pitchers, you got to match them because they’re stingy, they’re not going to give up a lot of runs.
“I tell you what, he’s doing a heck of a job.”