Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison knows how to hang tough and make in-game adjustments. Friday night he reaped the benefits in a matchup with Texas' Yu Darvish.
Hutchison, back in the majors this spring after having Tommy John surgery late in his rookie season in 2012, outdueled the Rangers' ace Friday night, throwing a three-hit shutout for his first career complete game in the Blue Jays' 2-0 victory in Texas.
"I was grinding a little bit," said Hutchison, 23, who made 11 starts as a rookie and 10 appearances late last season in the minors. "I had good command, but my secondary stuff took me a little bit to get to. I was able to make that adjustment and make better pitches with the changeup and slider."
'I've been watching him pitch from the first day of spring training. When he's on, he can be as tough as anybody.' - Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Drew Hutchison
Melky Cabrera broke up a scoreless game with a two-run double in the eighth inning to give Hutchison (2-3) all the support that he needed. He struck out six in earning his first victory since April 1.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wasn't surprised by Hutchison's performance.
"I've been watching him pitch from the first day of spring training," Gibbons said. "When he's on, he can be as tough as anybody."
Cabrera's liner sailed just beyond the outstretched glove of Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland, scoring Erik Kratz and Anthony Gose.
Kratz and Gose each reached against Darvish (3-2) on infield bunts. The right-handed hitting Kratz bunted to third and beat an off-balance throw by Adrian Beltre. Gose, a left-handed hitter, drag bunted up the first-base line. Moreland's throw to second baseman Rougned Odor covering first base wasn't in time.
Kratz, Gose in
Kratz and Gose were in the lineup replacing Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus. Navarro is on the bereavement/family medical emergency list and Rasmus is on the disabled list.
Kratz said it was his decision to open the inning with a bunt.
"We'd been talking the whole game about getting something going," Kratz said. "It was just an idea that worked."
Darvish said through an interpreter that he was surprised by the first bunt but not by the second. He went eight innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Darvish struck out 11 and walked three in his first start since throwing a one-hitter against Boston last Friday that Major League Baseball on Wednesday ruled was a two-hitter.
Neither team got a runner beyond first base until the sixth inning, thanks in part to a successful Toronto challenge in the third inning that reversed a safe call on a steal of second base by Leonys Martin. In the bottom of the sixth, Martin walked, was bunted to second, advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. He was stranded when Elvis Andrus grounded to shortstop.
Darvish was working on six days' rest because of a shuffling of the Rangers' starting rotation when Martin Perez experienced elbow pain in his start Saturday.
The first hit off Darvish came in the fifth inning, a leadoff single pulled to right field by Adam Lind.
The Rangers have lost three straight and five out of six to fall six games behind first-place Oakland in the American League West. Texas' typically potent attack went into the game ranked 10th in the league in slugging percentage and 11th in runs. And, in the past week, the Rangers have lost left-handed starters Perez and Matt Harrison to what appear to be season-ending injuries.
"It's in the back of our heads; it's sad to see what's happening to our pitching staff," Rangers right fielder Alex Rios said. "This is an offence capable of doing a lot of damage. We haven't quite gotten there yet."