TORONTO—With such a thin line between being on the N.Y. Yankees’ heels and getting swept at home, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t hesitate and handed the ball to their fifth starter with the 5.26 ERA.
Drew Hutchison took it, threw a gem, and helped the Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 yesterday afternoon at Rogers Centre to move to a half-game back in the AL East.
A defiant Hutchison silenced the doubters and delivered a crucial victory in the tight race for the division title.
“He responded,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
“He’s still a young guy but he’s mentally tough, I do know that.”
Hutchison allowed just three hits and one run on a solo home run by Jacoby Ellsbury in 6 2/3 innings to post his 12th win of the season.
The much-maligned right-hander struck out five as the Yankees ran out arguably their strongest possible lineup looking for the sweep.
As talk swirled about the Jays skipping one of Hutchison’s starts, he turned in his second-straight strong outing.
“When it comes to things that are out of my control, I don’t really pay any attention to that,” Hutchison said.
“Whenever I’m given the ball, I’m going to go out there and try to give an effort like I did today and help our team win,” he stressed.
This showdown in the middle of August felt like more than just one of 162 games.
The Jays were trying to avoid being swept at home for the first time this season—a result that would have dropped them 2.5 back in the AL East.
Instead, it’s an even tighter race in part because of a ball Carlos Beltran lost in the sun.
“I lost it when it was getting close to me and I basically couldn’t do anything,” Beltran said of Troy Tulowitzki’s fly ball in the third inning.
“Unfortunately, it would have been a different story if I had caught that ball.”
Toronto made the most of its break, with Tulowitzki on second and extra chances to score runs.
An RBI double by Josh Donaldson got the Jays on the board, then a two-run shot by Jose Bautista broke open an inning that could have been over.
Bautista nailed a hanging slider from Yankees’ rookie Luis Severino over the fence in left-centre for his 28th home run of the season.
The 21-year-old Severino kept the Jays from doing any more damage by striking out a career-high nine in just his third major-league start.
The Jays (65-54) and Yankees (64-52) face each other seven more times over the final month-and-a-half of the season.
The race is on.
“It’s going to be a battle the rest of the way out,” Hutchison said. “It’s going to be a fight.
“We just need to go out there, play the way we know we can play, and do what we’re capable of doing.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Minnesota beat Cleveland 4-1, Baltimore routed Oakland 18-2, Seattle topped Boston 10-8 (12 innings), Houston edged Detroit 6-5, Texas downed Tampa Bay 5-3, and Kansas City shaded L.A. 4-3 (10 innings).