Manager John Gibbons does not have an answer. Neither does Drew Hutchison, whose mysterious aversion to successful outings within the supposedly friendly confines of Rogers Centre continued on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old took the mound for the Blue Jays hoping to reverse the troubling trend and allow Toronto the chance to sweep the New York Yankees right out of town.
Hutchison did not perform all that badly, save for one inning, but that was all it took for the opportunistic Yankees (40-37), who would go on to record a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays (44-36) before 34,710 fans.
After Jose Reyes stroked a leadoff home run for Toronto in the bottom of the first inning, the Yankees roared back to post four of their own in the third, and it was enough of a foundation for New York to build on for the victory.
Hutchison came into the game with decent 4-2 record away from Rogers Centre, where he has pitched to a stingy 2.23 earned run average. At home, Hutchison’s record now stands at 1-4, with an inflated ERA of 8.27.
The Blue Jays will now welcome the Chicago White Sox to town for the first of a four-game set that will begin Thursday night.
With their 7-6 walk-off victory over the Yankees in Tuesday’s game, the Blue Jays had at the very least already assured themselves of their first series win since they swept the Tigers in Detroit in early June.
Since then, after a red-hot May, Toronto’s play has levelled off considerably, and their record was 5-11 over their next 16 games heading into the series against the Yankees.
Only thanks to the continued underwhelming play of the rest of the division have the Blue Jays been fortunate enough to continue to nurse their lead atop the American League East.
Still, The Blue Jays have been feeling particularly vulnerable of late, having been swept in three games last week by these same New Yorkers at Yankee Stadium.
They then went on to drop two of three in Cincinnati to the Reds, where the Blue Jays lost two of their best players, Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, to injury.
“But you deal with that in baseball, everybody does,” Gibbons said before the game. “And you just kind of weather the storm. Somebody else has got to step forward. It’s an opportunity for some young guys to come up and make a name.”
Still, emotions seem to be flaring just a little bit.
Earlier in the day, the Blue Jays selected the contract of outfielder Brad Glenn from their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, sending Kevin Pillar the other way.
Pillar did not help his cause any when he had a little hissy fit during Tuesday’s game when he was lifted in the 8th inning for pinch-hitter Anthony Gose.
Pillar, a .225 hitter at the Major League level, strode back into the dugout and could be seen throwing his bat to the ground. He then peeled off his batting gloves off and tossed them aside in obvious frustration.
“It didn’t help him at all,” Gibbons said when asked if Pillar’s reaction played a role in his demotion. “This is a team game…there’s no room for selfish. But we’ve been thinking about Glenn for awhile anyway.”
Glenn was hitting .381 with the Bisons at the time of his callup.
Reyes continues to ride the redemption rocket for the Blue Jays since his two throwing errors during Tuesday’s game nearly cost Toronto the victory.
Reyes responded in that game by stroking a double in the ninth inning and then coming around to score the winning run.
In Wednesday’s contest, Reyes hit his sixth home run of the year, leading off the game for Toronto to provide the Blue Jays with a 1-0 lead and a bit of a cushion for Hutchison to work with.
Reyes was terrific at the plate, going 3-for-5 and scoring two runs, only a triple away from hitting for the cycle.
But Hutchison could not make the early lead stand up. The Yankees stormed back with four in the third inning for a 4-1 lead after slapping around the Toronto pitcher for four hits.
The most damaging blow was a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira, his 14th of the year.
Hiroki Kuroda, the slow-working Yankee pitcher, gathered himself after Reyes’s game-opening calling card and shut the Blue Jays down over the next three innings.
In the fifth, the Blue Jays made a move when Melky Cabrera sliced a two-out single the other way into left field that scored two to trim the New York lead to one.
For Cabrera, the hit was his second of the game giving him an even 100 on the season, the second highest total in the majors.
Hutchison struck out the side in the sixth but Gibbons decided his night was over and he departed after allowing four of the New York runs off seven hits while striking out six.
Lefty Rob Rasmussen came on to start the seventh for Toronto but he was out of his element, surrendering a walk, a hit batter and another walk before Gibbons came to his rescue.
On came Sergio Santos, who allowed a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira that brought the score to 5-3.