Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison was a little under the weather for his start against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at his stats line.
Hutchison threw a four-hit shutout as the Blue Jays kicked off a three-game series with a 6-0 victory at Rogers Centre. He had eight strikeouts and went the distance for the first time this season.
“I don’t even know if he broke a sweat tonight,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “That was one of those games where it was nice to sit back and watch it because he was in total control.”
Justin Smoak and Josh Donaldson homered as Toronto (21-26) won for the fourth time in 13 games.
The Blue Jays scored four runs in the opening frame — capped by Smoak’s two-run blast off Chicago starter Hector Noesi — and Donaldson added a solo shot in the second inning.
Hutchison, who leads the Blue Jays with 51 strikeouts this season, didn’t walk a batter.
“I didn’t really feel great the first few innings,” he said. “I’d say maybe by the third or fourth, I really got it going. I was more worried about just (finding) the zone and being aggressive more than anything else.”
Neither Gibbons nor Hutchison offered details on his illness. Gibbons said it might have been something Hutchison ate earlier in the day.
The 24-year-old right-hander threw 70 of his 96 pitches for strikes.
“I did a good job of getting ahead,” Hutchison said. “I had a really good sinker tonight and got a lot of early-swing ground balls and got double plays. That was the key to getting deep in the game and keeping the pitch count down.”
Jose Reyes returned to the lineup after a stint on the 15-day disabled list and hit a double in his first at-bat. Donaldson followed with a walk and both scored on a two-out single by Chris Colabello.
Smoak doubled the lead with his third homer of the season.
Donaldson’s blast was his 10th homer of the year. He scored three runs and had two of Toronto’s seven hits.
Hutchison (4-1) lowered his earned-run average from 6.06 to 5.12. He needed just eight pitches to retire the side in the fifth inning and only seven pitches to get three outs in the sixth.
“He was really hitting on everything,” Gibbons said. “He had the good exploding fastball, some good breaking balls and mixed in some change-ups. So he had ’em swinging. He was hitting the zone.”
Noesi (0-4) settled down after his rough start. He worked seven innings, allowing five hits, five earned runs and three walks while striking out four.
The Blue Jays tacked on an insurance run in the eighth off reliever Scott Carroll.
Toronto remains in the American League East division basement but is now just 3 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay after the Rays dropped a 4-1 decision to Seattle.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista took another day off after having a cortisone shot over the weekend. He has been limited to designated hitter duty since injuring his right shoulder in a game on April 21.
Bautista is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday and is hopeful that he’ll be ready to play the outfield next week.
The White Sox (19-23) have dropped six of their last seven games. They remained in a virtual tie with Cleveland for last place in the AL Central, eight games behind first-place Kansas City.
“We weren’t very good offensively, we weren’t good defensively,” said Chicago manager Robin Ventura. “If you’re not going to score it becomes very thin.”
Announced attendance was 15,168 and the game took two hours 10 minutes to play.
Notes: Former Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera received a smattering of applause before his first at-bat in the opening inning. He hit into a fielder’s choice. Former Toronto infielder Emilio Bonifacio was also greeted by polite applause. … Toronto improved to 13-11 at home this season. … Both teams wore hats with camouflage on the brims. Monday was Memorial Day in the United States. … White Sox right-fielder Avisail Garcia left the game in the fourth inning due to right knee inflammation. He’s listed as day to day. Garcia was replaced by J.B. Shuck. … Several Toronto pitchers participated in an early batting-practice session to work on their bunting technique. The Blue Jays will play a three-game interleague series at Washington next week.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press