Although the Orioles currently lead the American League East by four games over the Blue Jays, those two series in September could decide the division if the two teams remain close.
And the Blue Jays likely will slot right-hander Drew Hutchison to pitch in both of those series, given his success against the Orioles in his brief major league career.
After holding the Orioles to one hit in 8 2/3 innings Tuesday, Hutchison might be the Blue Jays’ best pitching weapon against the AL East leaders. Hutchison retired 22 straight hitters before issuing a two-out walk in the ninth to Nick Markakis, his last batter of the game.
“I think going out there and having a little bit of a lead early in the game kind of takes a little bit of pressure off you, but you’ve got to give it to him,” said first baseman Chris Davis, whose second-inning homer was the Orioles' only hit. “The guy hung in there and probably should have had a complete game. … We’ll take this one on the chin and go get them tomorrow.”
Hutchison, 23, has a 0.91 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles. He has never allowed more than two runs in any of those six starts, which include five quality starts. And he has held the Orioles scoreless three times.
Here’s a closer look at Hutchison's six career outings against the Orioles:
April 26, 2012: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
May 28, 2012: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K
April 12, 2014: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
April 24, 2014: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K
June 13, 2014: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
Aug. 6, 2014: 8 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Despite Hutchison's impressive statistics, the Blue Jays are just 3-3 in the six games that he has started against the Orioles.
The Orioles won both of Hutchison’s two starts against them in April this season.
On April 12, Hutchison left a scoreless game in the sixth inning before the Orioles won, 2-1, on David Lough’s walk-off single in the 12th. On April 24, Hutchison left the game with a 3-2 lead after six innings before the Orioles outscored the Blue Jays, 9-1, in the final three innings for an 11-4 win.
* In the past two nights, we’ve seen how playing games on the fast artificial turf at the Rogers Centre is like nowhere else.
In Tuesday’s 9-3 win over the Blue Jays, the Orioles had their share of hits that sped through the infield. So they couldn’t be overly angry when a pair of back-to-back, seeing-eye singles off left-hander Wei-Yin Chen with two outs gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jose Bautista then hit a two-run homer in the second inning.
“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.”
Through interpreter Louis Chao, Chen said: “Most of those things happened in the first two innings. I allowed three groundball hits which got through the infield, and in the [second] inning, Bautista hit a pitch out of the park, and that was not really [on] the sweet spot. I think I pitched the way I wanted to, but he still hit it. He’s a great hitter.”
* It’s interesting that, despite this being Chen’s third season with the Orioles, this was just his second career start against the Blue Jays. He has allowed 10 runs in 10 innings in two career outings against Toronto.
*Chen has given up 19 homers this season, but he had not allowed a home run over 18 1/3 innings until Bautista’s blast in the second inning.
* The five runs the Orioles allowed were the most they’ve given up on the road since allowing 10 at Oakland on July 20.