TORONTO — Drew Hutchison isn’t the type to look for bright sides after losses, especially when his team is in the kind of rut the Toronto Blue Jays are trudging through of late.
That’s why he seemed particularly disappointed with himself after Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, despite throwing 6.2 strong innings and leaving with two on, two out and a 3-2 lead in the seventh. The 24-year-old right-hander was much better than his line, but he wasn’t having any of that talk.
“I don’t handle losses well, never have,” he said Thursday when asked why he was so hard on himself. “It’s not enjoyable, we have to start winning, we all know that, it’s on us to get the job done.”
To that end, Hutchison wouldn’t abdicate any responsibility for the result, even though Steve Delabar surrendered the game-winning hit to Marc Krauss. That take-charge mentality is why the Blue Jays expect so much from him.
Lost in the loss is that Hutchison has pieced together three consecutive strong starts, improving command of his fastball and locking in with his slider, a pitch he used to great effect against the Angels.
He’s pleased with that, but it won’t really matter to him unless the Blue Jays end up with the victory.
“I wouldn’t say I was blaming myself, I just felt we needed to win [Wednesday] and I needed to go out and get a win,” he said. “I don’t like losing, I don’t enjoy losing, and we need to win right now, we need to go out there and get a win to turn things around. I had the opportunity of taking the ball, and I wanted to go out there and help us win.”
HOFFMAN DEBUT: The reports were good and the Blue Jays were pleased with how 2014 first-rounder Jeff Hoffman fared in his pro debut Wednesday.
The ninth-overall pick allowed four runs on eight hits including a homer in five innings of work in single-A Dunedin’s 6-5 win over Tampa, with three strikeouts. It was his first real game in more than a year after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“He got all his work in, which is the main thing at this point,” assistant GM Tony LaCava, who oversees the farm system, said Thursday. “He used all his pitches, he had one inning where the results weren’t what he wanted, but he got through that inning and kept going. The velocity was good, he topped at 99, pitched at the mid-90s, hit on some good curveballs, sliders and change, used all four of his pitches, and we were very pleased with the first outing.”
All four runs against him came in a difficult second during which he allowed four hits and a wild pitch. He had runners on in every inning but the first.
“I’m kind of glad to see he had to work out of some things,” said LaCava. “That’s important, that he had a rough inning but got through it and continued on. Because that’s going to happen, as we know.”
NORRIS NEARING? Daniel Norris is nearing a return to the Blue Jays barring a sudden turn of fortune at triple-A Buffalo, and the left-hander can earn that recall by showing “some consistency,” according to John Gibbons.
“His last outing was pretty good, we just want to see that a couple of times, a few times maybe, for his own benefit. He needs that,” explained the Blue Jays manager. “We’re looking to get him back. He got here so quick, he started to struggle, you want to make sure what you did by sending him down was worthwhile, that he’s regrouped enough, instead of rushing him back. If he’s not quite ready yet, then you’re back to square one again.”
Norris struck out nine batters over six innings in his third start for triple-A Buffalo, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks. He’s scheduled to pitch again Friday.
SHORT HOPS: Jose Reyes played six innings of shortstop in his first rehab game with Buffalo, getting pinch-ran for by Jonathan Diaz in the top of the seventh. He went 1-for-4 … Relief prospect John Stilson, bound for the big-leagues last year until shoulder surgery sidelined him, has been shut down again with more trouble in his shoulder. “He’s not ready to compete right now, so we need to take a step back,” said Tony LaCava.