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Blue Jays can't capitalize on opportunities, strand 12

Hutchison can't get out of jam in seventh, gives up double to Escobar

KANSAS CITY -- Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison did a lot of good things Wednesday night while working a season-high seven innings against the Royals. But all Hutchison could think about was his inability to get the big out in the big situation.

In the seventh, the Royals had runners at first and third with two outs and Hutchison was looking to get Alcides Escobar and keep the score tied. But Escobar, with two strikes, got the last laugh when he ripped a two-run double down the third-base line to give Kansas City a 4-2 win at Kauffman Stadium. Thus, the month of April ended with a thud for the Blue Jays as they lost for the sixth time in seven games.

"I'm obviously disappointed that I didn't execute when we needed it," Hutchison said. "I got ahead of [Escobar] and thought I made a good pitch. It's a situation where I expect to thrive and get the job done and I didn't."

Escobar's game-winning hit was just the type of blow that had been eluding the Blue Jays in the latter innings. Toronto got into the Kansas City bullpen after five innings because starter Yordano Ventura needed 92 pitches to record 15 outs. The Royals' bullpen wavered but didn't break as Toronto could not get the clutch hit and wound up leaving 12 on base.

The Blue Jays put their first three on in the sixth when they scored two runs. But after the first two reached in the seventh and the eighth, Toronto was stopped cold.

"It was one of those games where we had opportunities, but couldn't put [runs] on the board," said new second baseman Chris Getz, who had his first two hits with the Jays and reached three times. "And then [the Royals] came through when they needed it. Escobar has such good hands. He can do some things with pitches that a lot of guys can't."

The Blue Jays were without starting third baseman Brett Lawrie, who sat out with a sore back. Juan Franciso started at third and manager John Gibbons was asked whether Lawrie might have been able to make a play on Escobar's game-winning smash that whistled inside the bag and rolled to the left-field corner.

"I don't know if anybody makes that play," Gibbons said. "It's hit pretty good right on the line. You can't defend those."

If the offense had been more opportunistic, Hutchison might have had some margin for error in the seventh. In the sixth and the eighth, Nos. 7 and 8 hitters Colby Rasmus and Moises Sierra had back-to-back strikeouts with two on. Jose Reyes was up with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, but took three straight strikes from Wade Davis.

The Blue Jays had to finish the game without starting left fielder Melky Cabrera, who suffered a left shin bruise in the sixth after being hit by a Danny Duffy pitch. X-rays were negative and Cabrera is listed as day to day.

Cabrera, who leads the Major Leagues with 41 hits, would have been a welcome sight at the plate in the seventh when Getz led off with a double and Reyes drew a walk. Jonathan Diaz, batting in Cabrera's No. 2 slot, struck out after being unable to sacrifice and Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion couldn't come through thereafter. It was that type of slip-and-slide night for the Blue Jays (12-15).

Hutchison has received just 18 runs in six starts, the lowest run support among Blue Jays starters this season.

"The Royals throw some pitching at you," Gibbons said. "They have some big-time arms and they've got a real shot at their division."

Royals manager Ned Yost feels it's a bonus when Escobar, the slick-fielding shortstop, delivers the kind of clutch hit that sunk the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

"He has always been a big part of our club because of his defense," Yost said. "He saves runs in the field. So you add what he does offensively with what he does defensively and it makes him a special player."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, Juan Francisco, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Drew Hutchison