ARLINGTON -- Drew Hutchison was matched up against one of the best pitchers in baseball, but instead of wilting under the pressure, he matched Yu Darvish pitch for pitch.
Toronto's young starter is still relatively inexperienced but he's also mature beyond his years and it showed on Friday night. He was aggressive early and seemed to get even sharper as the game went on and the end result was the best start of his career.
Hutchison allowed three hits and tossed his first shutout to outduel Darvish as the Blue Jays rallied late to secure a 2-0 victory over the Rangers in front of 39,129 fans at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
"He was tremendous," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hutchison. "He went toe to toe with [Darvish], matched him, and ended up getting the win. It was a battle on both sides. Both guys were really good.
"What Hutch did, he's still a youngster at this level and in this game but I can't say that I'm really surprised because I've been watching him pitch from the first day of Spring Training until now. When he's on, he can be as tough as anybody."
Hutchison is the type of pitcher who relies heavily on command and needs to hit the corners of the strike zone in order to have a lot of success. That skill disappeared during his last start as he tied a career high with four walks vs. the Angels.
The lack of command had Hutchison visibly irritated following that game and perhaps that's one reason why he came out even more aggressive than normal against the Rangers. Hutchison threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 30 batters he faced, including the first seven Rangers hitters.
By the time Hutchison got Adrian Beltre to pop up to end the game, he had put the finishing touches on an outing that included one walk and six strikeouts in his first career complete game. His previous high was eight innings during a start against the Phillies on May 6.
"Tremendous, he was so aggressive," catcher Erik Kratz said. "He wasn't pinpointing all of his locations. I think he knows he can do better in those spots, but he was aggressive. There were some balls that he was able to not just locate down and away, but all four quadrants. ... He did a great job all night with all three of his pitches."
Hutchison faced the minimum from the second inning until the fifth. His only sign of trouble came in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff walk to Leonys Martin, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Hutchison then retired the next two batters he faced to escape the inning without any further damage.
The outing was even more impressive considering that Hutchison pitched without any type of run support for most of the game. As Hutchison made his way through the Rangers' lineup with relative ease, Darvish was doing the same against the Blue Jays.
Darvish retired 11 consecutive batters over a span that stretched from the first inning until the top of the fifth. By the end of the sixth inning, Darvish already had 10 strikeouts and through seven the Blue Jays had just two hits, with both coming off the bat of Adam Lind.
The power-hitting Blue Jays seemed overmatched at the plate and as a result tried to switch their strategy in the eighth inning. Kratz caught the Rangers' defense off guard as he dropped a bunt down the third-base line for a rare infield single. Anthony Gose followed with a bunt single of his own down the first-base line to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Two batters later, Melky Cabrera broke the stalemate with a double to the right-field corner, scoring both runners. Darvish finished the inning, but took the tough loss as he allowed five hits and three walks while striking out 11.
"It worked tonight, let's put it that way," Kratz said of the first bunt single of his Major League career. "I had thought about it. We had been talking the whole game about how we needed to get something going. We just couldn't get anything going. We had a couple of guys on, Lind got on twice, I think Melky walked twice. We just had to try to get something going and I wasn't squaring him up so it was just an idea and it worked."
The two runs were enough to give Hutchison his second win of the season. It's a moment that most young pitchers would enjoy for at least a day or two before moving on, but that's not how Hutchison operates. He's all business all the time and even after the best outing of his career Hutchison wanted to move on to the next topic.
"It's obviously something that I was happy to do but now I'm looking forward to getting the ball in five days and we'll go from there," Hutchison said.