TORONTO – Home has been more sour than sweet for Toronto Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison this season.
The right-hander’s two shortest starts of the year have both come at Rogers Centre, and the briefest came on Sunday when he allowed six hits and five runs in three innings as the Toronto Blue Jays lost 5-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals for the second day in a row.
Hutchison (4-4) is 1-3 with an earned-run average of 8.72 in five starts at home this season. He is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in eight starts on the road.
The 23-year-old says he doesn’t know the reason for the disparity.
“Obviously I feel the same way when I take the mound every time, home or on the road,” Hutchison said. “I just haven’t executed well here and put together good games.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons doesn’t understand it either.
“He’s definitely pitched better on the road, some guys are like that, it’s hard to put a finger on it,” Gibbons said. “I don’t know why it is. He wasn’t very good today, but he’s been pretty good for us.”
Hutchison’s shortest start before Sunday’s was 3 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees, who scored six runs against him on April 6.
Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta homered against Hutchison while left-hander Jaime Garcia stifled the Blue Jays on three hits and three walks over seven innings. Right-hander Shelby Miller shut out the Blue Jays 5-0 on Saturday.
“They stuck it to us pretty good the last couple of days,” Gibbons said. “They pitched. We couldn’t get anything going today.”
Garcia (2-0), who started the season on the disabled list after shoulder surgery ended his 2013 campaign, allowed three hits and three walks and struck out four in his fifth start of the season. The walks were the first he has allowed this year.
“They’ve got one of the best lineups in the league and I knew it was going to be a tough challenge,” Garcia said. “I was able to get them off balance a little bit and then tried to keep the ball down.”
Right-hander Pat Neshek replaced Garcia in the eighth inning and right-hander Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth.
Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond took over for Hutchison in the fourth and pitched a bullpen-saving five scoreless innings, allowing four hits while striking out three. Left-hander Brett Cecil took over in the ninth.
“(Hutchison) didn’t have a lot of snap on the ball,” Gibbons said. “They hit him around pretty good so I got him out of there. Redmond pitched a nice ballgame, kept us in the game.”
The series loss ended a string of seven successive series in which the Blue Jays had not been defeated, something they had not done since June of 2000. The Blue Jays (38-26) last were undefeated in eight consecutive series in 1993.
“Just a great win, great series against a team that couldn’t be any hotter than they were when we rolled in here,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “(Garcia) had a real good feel for everything today and executed when he had to. Exactly what we needed for this last game.”
The Cardinals (33-31) scored four runs in their bat-around second. Jon Jay and Mark Ellis singled. Peter Bourjos hit a sacrifice fly and Tony Cruz hit an RBI double that was followed by Carpenter’s second homer of the season, a drive to centre on a 1-1 change-up.
“I felt good, I just had a bad second inning and let a big inning happen,” Hutchison said. “I did a bad job of controlling the situation. I fell behind some guys and hung some pitches and made mistakes and they got hit.”
Peralta led off the third with his 10th homer of the season, a blast to left on a 1-0 slider. Hutchison retired the next three batters to finish his outing at 70 pitches.
Hutchison was pitching on his regular four days of rest. Though some of his better outings have come with an extra day or two between starts, his shutout at Texas on May 16 came on regular four days rest.
“I haven’t broken it down,” Gibbons said. “Some days he has that little extra snap and some days he doesn’t. He’s coming off Tommy John (surgery) but he’s healthy. Probably in a lot of ways he’s still building up — a year off is year off.
“They swung the bats good today, they came after him. I don’t know if he was so bad, they attacked him pretty good.”
Hutchison said he felt nothing out of the ordinary throughout his short outing. Though there has been some concern about a dip in his velocity, that didn’t seem to be the problem Sunday as he hit 94 and 95 miles per hour in the first inning and hit 95 once in the third.
“The ball felt like it was coming out fine,” Hutchison said. “I just hung some pitches. I left a slider up there for the double and then hung a changeup. I just didn’t execute those pitches.”
NOTES: Attendance was announced as 45,726, the fifth sellout of the season. … The Blue Jays have signed two players selected in the draft, catcher Matt Morgan, 18, a fourth-round pick and right-handed pitcher Justin Shafer, 21, an eighth-round pick. … Matt Holliday (tight back) was scratched from the Cardinals starting lineup and Yadier Molina replaced him as designated hitter. … Former Blue Jay Carlos Delgado threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game on behalf of the Extra Bases Foundation. … The Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night at Rogers Centre. Right-hander R.A. Dickey (6-4, 4.25 earned-run average) will get the start for the Blue Jays against Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-5, 5.65 ERA).