TORONTO -- Explaining how right-hander Drew Hutchison has dominated the Orioles over his past five games against them seemed pretty easy for manager Buck Showalter after his team's 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night at the Rogers Centre.
“He's a very good pitcher,” Showalter said. “When he's one of five [starters] of 30 major league teams, you're talking about the best pitchers in the world. He's obviously capable of that. I'm sure we'll see him a couple more times.”
Still, just how Hutchison -- who has a 5.29 ERA against all other teams besides the Orioles this season -- has been so masterful against Showalter's club is baffling.
And on Wednesday night, Hutchison cooled the surging Orioles hitters by holding them to just one hit in 8 2/3 innings -- retiring 22 of the final 23 hitters he faced -- in front of an announced 33,054.
The loss snapped the Orioles' three-game winning streak, and it also allowed the second-place Blue Jays to climb back within four games of the American League East division lead.
The Orioles' only hit came on Chris Davis' solo homer in the top of the second inning, marking their lowest hit total in more than two years, since knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tossed a complete-game, one-hitter for the New York Mets on June 18, 2012.
“After he gave up the home run, he really buckled down,” Davis said. “We just couldn't square anything up. A lot of pop-ups, a lot of ground balls. He was mixing all of his pitches in any count, throwing a lot of strikes and keeping us off balance. … I think the past few times out he's been pretty successful. … He moves the ball around. He's got movement on all of his pitches.”
The Orioles (64-49) had scored 33 runs -- along with 48 hits -- in their first four games in Toronto this season, but they managed just two base runners and didn't have a runner in scoring position Wednesday.
They had also scored 16 runs over their past two games, including nine runs in Tuesday's series-opening win in Toronto.
“I think everybody in the lineup still feels good,” Davis said. “We've had some games where we were swinging the bats really well, and we know that's not going to last every night. There's going to be times when there's a pitcher who is on top of his game, and that's what happened tonight.”
Hutchison has allowed just three runs in 34 2/3 innings (0.79 ERA) in his last five starts against the Orioles. In four starts this season against the Orioles, he has 25 strikeouts and just five walks.
"You approach them all the same, and your game plan is the same way,” Hutchison said about his success against the Orioles. “I have just had good success against them."
Showalter said: “He had good command of the fastball, mixed in some good changeups, right and left, and spun the ball for a strike. Looking at a lot of advanced stuff on him through the times -- this is his fifth or sixth time against us -- some of the things he doesn't do on a given start against other people, he does [against the Orioles].”
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (61-54) scored all five of their runs with two outs, making it a frustrating night for Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, whose five-start winning streak was snapped.
“I wouldn't say I was upset,” Chen said through interpreter Louis Chao of allowing four runs with two outs. “Of course I wasn't happy. I think that's because I know I could have pitched better and gotten out of the inning, but they were able to score those runs. So hopefully I will do better in the future in similar situations.”
The Blue Jays jumped on Chen (12-4) early in a 29-pitch first inning, scoring runs on back-to-back, two-out RBI singles by Dioner Navarro and Danny Valencia to take a 2-0 lead.
Toronto didn't hit the ball hard Chen against in that inning despite four hits and a walk. Navarro hit a bloop single to right field, and Valencia followed with a seeing-eye single to left field that bounced between third baseman Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy.
“Heck, it's part of it, especially when you play on this stuff here they call some form of grass,” Showalter said. “It's going to be a part [of it]. We had some seeing-eye hits off the turf last night. … It's there for both of us. But they hit some balls hard, too. … We didn't give him much margin for error.”
Davis then brought the Orioles within a run in the top of the second, hitting a 2-2 pitch from Hutchison into the second deck in left field, a powerful opposite-field shot reminiscent of some of his longballs during last year's 53-homer season.
It was Davis' second homer is as many days, marking the first time Davis has hit a home run in back-to-back games in nearly a year (Aug. 12-13, 2013). It was also Davis' 24th career homer against the Blue Jays, his most against any opponent, and his 20th against Toronto since the beginning of the 2012 season.
But the Blue Jays answered in the bottom of the second inning on Jose Bautista's two-run homer off Chen following Melky Cabrera's two-out double. Bautista later drove in another run on a two-out double in the sixth inning off reliever T.J. McFarland.
The Blue Jays escalated Chen's pitch count with deep at-bats – including ones of 12 and 10 pitches -- and lots of foul balls that kept at-bats alive. The Blue Jays fouled off 23 of Chen's 99 pitches, including 13 in the fourth inning.
“I was able to locate by fastball well in my previous outings, but tonight sometimes after two strikes I couldn't pinpoint my fastball, so that's why they could keep hitting foul balls and drive my pitch count up,” Chen said.
The four runs against Chen -- all in the first two innings -- were the most he has given up since he allowed five runs in his last loss June 28 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I wasn't able to control the game in the first two innings,” Chen said. “That's what I failed to do, so I was kind of upset about it.”
Hutchison retired 22 straight hitters following Davis' homer and was one out away from a one-hit, complete game before he walked Nick Markakis with two outs in the ninth.
Hutchison was pulled from the game following that plate appearance after throwing 115 pitches, and he walked off the field to a standing ovation before Casey Janssen forced Machado to hit a pop-up to first base for the final out of the night.
"It's a great start, but a little frustrating to walk the last guy,” Hutchison said. “But you don't want to be too picky. … I had every chance to finish it, but unfortunately I walked Markakis."
twitter.com/EddieInTheYardCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun