When Drew Hutchison got to the dugout after striking out David Ortiz to end an easy first inning, the Blue Jays starter had nine strikes on 10 pitches and every reason to believe he had his best stuff.
Some of his worst followed.
Hutchison unravelled quickly from there as he and his Toronto teammates got shelled by the Boston Red Sox in a 14-1 loss Monday night at Rogers Centre.
"Just, I guess you could say, one of those nights," Hutchison said. "It wasn't good, it was bad. It was probably more than bad."
Not only was it bad, it was the Blue Jays' worst loss of the season and one that dropped them 3 ½ games back of the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles, who played on the West Coast against the Los Angeles Angels. The Blue Jays' defeat, their 10th in 14 games, snapped their brief winning streak at two.
Hutchison (6-9) allowed six earned runs in less than three innings of work, including a three-run homer by Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew. Meanwhile, the meek offence mustered only three hits, reliever Brad Mills gave up two home runs to Ortiz and little else went right for the Blue Jays (51-49).
"Best thing about it is it's over with," manager John Gibbons said.
Red Sox starter John Lackey allowed one run on two hits in seven innings to pick up the victory, his 11th of the season. Third baseman Juan Francisco drove in Toronto's only run off Lackey with a double in the third, and the Blue Jays at one point went 19 straight batters without a base runner.
"There's no at-bats off, pitches off," said catcher Erik Kratz, who scored after breaking up Lackey's perfect game with a double in the third. "You can't just go up there and just swing to swing. I hope that's not what anybody on this team does, I know it's not what I do, it's not what the guys I see in our lineup doing."
Gibbons understood that falling so far behind made it difficult on his hitters to do much against Lackey, who finished with just 76 pitches.
Hutchison threw almost that many in his 2 1/3 innings of work.
"I put us in a terrible position and didn't really give us a chance to win," the right-hander said. "Just a lack of execution and not getting the job done."
For a fleeting few minutes, Hutchison was in control. In 10 first-inning pitches he threw nine strikes and sat down Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz with ease.
Off the rails
In the second, Hutchison went off the rails. Within his first 10 pitches he allowed three hits and a run and gave up another to make it 2-0 Red Sox before the inning was over.
If he were able to stop the bleeding there, the Blue Jays might've had a puncher's chance against Lackey. Instead, Hutchison came one strike away from getting out of the third inning before falling apart.
Boston first baseman Mike Napoli, who started the second-inning rally as well, singled to mark the beginning of the end of Hutchison's outing. Drew's three-run shot, a single by Xander Bogaerts and an RBI double by Jackie Bradley Jr. chased Hutchison with two outs in the third.
"It's hard to look out and see your pitcher struggling, see him throwing strikes, seeing him getting ahead and not putting guys away," Kratz said. "That's very frustrating."
Gibbons pointed to Hutchison being unable to get his slider over for strikes as a reason the Red Sox knocked him around the park.
"I thought Hutch looked really good and then from there on they didn't miss him," Gibbons said. "He really had a tough time getting anything going with his breaking ball, spiking a lot of them, yanking a lot of them."
By giving up six runs on nine hits — each stat a career high — Hutchison's earned run average rose from 4.16 to 4.54. His home ERA reached 7.71 in his eighth start at Rogers Centre in 2014.
"He's really struggled at home for whatever reason," Gibbons said. "That's a mystery."
Mills managed to get a fly out from Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez to end the third. By the time he returned to the mound, the Blue Jays had broken up Lackey's perfect game with back-to-back doubles from Kratz and Francisco but couldn't string anything else together.
And by the time Gibbons took the ball from his hand in the fifth, Mills actually fared worse than Hutchison.
The lefty long man gave up a two-run homer to Ortiz in the fourth that tied the Red Sox slugger with Carl Yastrzemski for 36th on Major League Baseball's all-time list. An inning later Ortiz hit another off Mills for No. 22 of the season and No. 453 of his career to take sole possession of the 36th spot.
Ortiz, who on Sunday said he was about to get "hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August" did just that.
"Put it down like this: I'm on my way to Jamaica," he said.
Ortiz's second blast made the Blue Jays' deficit 12 runs at 13-1. Napoli, who finished a triple short of the cycle, hit a solo shot to make it 14-1.