Drew Hutchison’s arm is fine, which is huge news when you consider he had Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow exactly one year ago Friday.
But the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander knows he still has plenty of work to do. Getting torched for five runs in the second inning Friday night in Coca-Cola Field proved that.
“I was fighting myself pretty much the whole night,” Hutchison said after giving up six of the runs in the Buffalo Bisons’ 7-3 loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. “I got all my pitches in, which is about the only good thing tonight. But it’s all part of it. Just continue to go out there and make quality pitches. I didn’t make enough of them.”
The loss dropped the Bisons out of the lead in the International League wild-card race and one game behind Norfolk, which routed Rochester. The Bisons have 25 games to play.
The game marked Hutchison’s sixth start of his injury rehab assignment, and the first five had produced a 2.76 ERA between Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. This one wasn’t nearly as successful.
After a 1-2-3 first, Hutchison found trouble in the second. He walked Dan Johnson and hit Randy Ruiz with a pitch before retiring the next two hitters. He went to a full count on Bobby Wilson – and was thus one pitch away from emerging unscathed – before giving up an RBI single to left.
Hutchison then hit another batter, Brendan Harris, to load the bases. His next pitch was crushed to dead center by Melky Mesa for a grand slam that put Scranton in front, 5-0. Mesa added an RBI single in the ninth to finish with five RBIs.
“I was fighting it, got two outs, got a pitch away from getting out of it and got a little bit too predictable,” said Hutchison, 22, who went right from Double-A to the big leagues last year and was 5-3 in Toronto.
Hutchison was lifted after throwing 71 pitches, four shy of the limit the Blue Jays put on the outing. He went 3∏ innings, allowing six runs on six hits. He struck out one, did not walk a man and threw 40 pitches for strikes.
Still, the positives are that his rehab has reached Triple-A and his next start for the Bisons should push the 85-90 mark in pitches.
“It’s starting to get to the end of it. We’re getting close and that’s obviously exciting,” he said. “Just try to continue to stay the course and hopefully get back there.
“It seems like a mountain that you’re just trying to get to the top to and you can’t even see the top. Now we’re getting close so you try to take it day by day, small goals.”
The early deficit was too much for the Bisons to overcome as the crowd of 13,311 didn’t have much to cheer about until the late innings. Scranton starter Brett Marshall (6-9) no-hit the Herd through four and threw six shutout frames.
The Bisons scored in the seventh on Andy LaRoche’s RBI double and added two in the eighth on RBI singles by Luis Jimenez and Ryan Goins.
Bisons manager Marty Brown was denied in his first attempt to win his 300th game as the head of the Herd. There have been six previous 300-game winners in the franchise’s 128 seasons, none in the modern era. All were before 1940, except for legendary 1960s skipper Kerby Farrell.
The Bisons and RailRiders both hit the road right after the game for the trip to Moosic, Pa., where they will meet again tonight at 7 (Radio 550 and 1520 AM).
Justin Germano (7-8) pitches for Buffalo.