TORONTO – The present is murky at best. But the Blue Jays have to believe pitching can create a better future for them.
Marcus Stroman is already standing out as a young starter here. Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman and Scott Copeland have had great moments in Buffalo.
And two other prized young arms, Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez, were in complete control Saturday in Rogers Centre. The pair of former Bisons completely handcuffed the New York Yankees for a combined one-hitter as the Jays posted a 2-0 win before a crowd of 45,863.
“It was unbelievable,” said Jose Bautista, whose two-run homer in the first accounted for the scoring. “Hutch did a tremendous job and gave us the chance to win. … I don’t want to talk about their bright future as if this season was over. I think they’re going to be able to help us win games the rest of this season.”
The Blue Jays are just one game over .500 and behind three other teams in the wild-card hunt so they’re going to need plenty more outings like this.
Hutchison (9-11) retired the first 11 men before hitting Carlos Beltran with a pitch with two out in the fourth. Mark Teixeira then doubled for the Yankees’ only hit before Hutchison hit Brian McCann to load the bases.
Hutchison escaped by getting Martin Prado on a lazy fly to center and the Yankees posted just two walks the rest of the game.
“I was able to have good command,” said Hutchison, who struck out nine. “My fastball was real good, everything comes off it and I had a good slider too.”
Said Teixeira on the Hutchison change-up he pulled to right: “It might have been the only pitch he mislocated all day.” It was the first time the Yankees were one-hit since Roy Halladay did the trick here for the Blue Jays on Sept. 4, 2009. And it was particularly confounding considering they have recent wins over aces like Chicago’s Chris Sale, Kansas City’s James Shields and Detroit’s David Price, whom they pummeled for eight runs in an inning last week in Comerica Park.
“To try to figure it out is really difficult,” said manager Joe Girardi. “We got nine straight hits off Price. That’s really strange.”
One of the issues was the loss of leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury to an ankle injury suffered sliding into home here Friday night. Ellsbury tripled and homered to improve a red-hot stretch to 20 for 44, but Girardi said he’ll almost certainly sit out again today and perhaps longer.
A big subplot for the Blue Jays was the two perfect innings in just 28 pitches put together by Sanchez for his first career save. Sanchez, a 2010 first-round pick, was only 3-7 as a starter this year between Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire but has a 1.66 ERA in 10 relief outings in the big leagues.
He fanned three and let no balls escape the infield, including a called third-strike on Derek Jeter that painted the outside corner to end the eighth. With closer Casey Janssen struggling to a tune of an ERA over 8.00 since the all-star break, Sanchez got the ninth-inning chance and fanned McCann for the final out with the crowd roaring.
“I’ve been on two-inning stints the whole time I’ve been up here, so I didn’t think about it as any save situation,” Sanchez said. “I just took it as my second inning of work and just to go out there and keep attacking hitters.”
Bautista drove an 0-2 slider from Michael Pineda (3-3) on a rope off the second deck in left field for his 28th homer of the season. He went deep for the fourth straight game – the first time he’s done that since 2009.
The series wraps up here today at 1 (YES) as Brandon McCarthy (5-2) pitches for the Yankees against J.A. Happ (8-8). The Blue Jays will honor Jeter in his final game in Canada during a pregame ceremony.