By Bob Elliott
The Ignitor met The Ignitor Wednesday night.
It was not pretty for either.
During his Hall of Fame career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Paul Molitor, earned the nickname, The Ignitor, igniting the Brewers offence from position atop the lineup, stealing bases and going on a 39 consecutive-game hit streak in 1987.
Now, managing the Minnesota Twins, Molitor saw the Blue Jays’ own Ignitor Wednesday night.
Not that it needs much igniting, but after scoring “only” eight runs in the first two games of the four-game series, the Blue Jays offence came to life behind right-hander Drew Hutchison scoring nine times in its first four at-bats.
Turned out, the Jays needed every one run.
LaTroy Hawkins retired Brian Dozier on a liner to left with the tying run racing off second for a 9-7 win before 27,725 fans at the Rogers Centre. It was Toronto’s seventh win in the eight games since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki.
And this was a nervy ninth: Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez singled off Hawkins since closer Roberto Osuna was given the night off. After a bunt, Hawkins got a pop up and the liner to left fielder Ben Revere which looked lost in the lights for an instant.
When the ball was caught, catcher Russell Martin and Hawkins hugged and shared a laugh.
It was the third straight loss for the Ignitor wearing the stylized ‘M’ on his cap, the man who won the 1993 World Series MVP scoring the winning run on Joe Carter’s homer and hugged by crying teammates.
It was the second straight win for Hutchison, now 10-2 and averaging 8.4 runs support at home, the most support any pitcher has had at home since 1974.
Things have been going too good for Jays fans -- the wins, the additions of David Price, Revere, Hawkins, Tulowitzki and Mark Lowe, who worked a scoreless eighth -- that they have had nothing to worry about.
Now they have something: Hutchison.
“I had the bad first inning, got the double play ball in the second,” said Hutchison who set down eight in a row before allowing a runner with one out in the fifth.
Hutchison was tagged for seven runs -- four unearned -- due to a one-out error by third baseman Josh Donaldson whose one-hopper to first could not be picked by first baseman Chris Colabello in the fifth. With two out, Joe Mauer singled in a run and Miguel Sano hit a 447-foot, three-run homer.
“I got the second out, then gave up the single and left the 3-2 pitch over the middle for the homer,” said Hutchison.
Pitching coach Pete Walker came out of the dugout for a visit, not John Gibbons. Hutchison retired Trevor Plouffe and his night was done.
“I wasn’t pleased, allowing the other team to get back in the game,” said Hutchison, who conjured up memories of Ricky Romero,
Romero was 8-1 with a 4.34 ERA after beating the Miami Marlins 12-5 on June 22, 2012. The Jays scored three, seven, five, 11, 14, eight, nine and 12 runs for Romero in his wins.
The Jays have scored six, seven, seven, six, seven, eight, eight, three, six and nine times in Hutchison’s 10 wins and he has a 5.42 ERA. They have scored 147 runs in his 22 starts for an average of 6.57 runs per game.
R.A. Dickey has getting the kind of support (four per game) Dave Stieb used to get a lot of nights, for a lot of years.
Hutchison leads American League pitchers in runs allowed (81) and is sixth in earned runs allowed (71) behind Anibal Sanchez, Jeff Samardzija, Rick Porcello and Colby Lewis.
He failed to go more than six innings for ninth time in his last 10 starts ... and yet the Jays are 8-2, while he’s 5-1 with a 4.89 ERA.
Jays fans will now worry about their Ignitor, while the other Ignitor leaves the city after Thursday night’s finale.
Bombs away: Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer facing reliever J.R. Graham in the third for a 9-3 lead ... Jose Bautista hit his fifth career grand slam, and 23rd of the season, on a 3-1 pitch from Tyler Duffey making his major-league debut in the second for a 6-3 lead ... Donaldson hit his 29th homer in the first, a two-run shot off Duffey ... Donaldson now has 80 RBIs, Bautista 75 and Encarnacion 60.
Complete set: It was Hawkins third save of the season and the 127th of his 21-year career ... Lowe asked Hawkins in the bullpen Tuesday if he knew he had saves against every team but the Twins. Hawkins didn’t know and didn’t expect to get one up 9-3. He stayed in the clubhouse until the fifth inning rather than heading to the bullpen after the fourth which is the norm ... He joins Rick Aguilera, Armando Benitez, Brian Fuentes, Kevin Gregg, Jason Isringhausen, Jose Mesa, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Huston Street, Ugueth Urbina, Jose Valverde and Bob Wickman, with saves against all 30 clubs. “A lot of my buddies are on that list: Aguilera, Isringhausen, Fuentes, Valverde, I played against a most of them.”
In game: Hutchison helped himself picking Plouffe off second to make things easier for himself in the first ... Donaldson climbed the ladder to snare a Dozier liner in the first ... Revere had his first hit as a Jay ending an 0-for-13 skid when he singled to centre in the fourth. He also singled in the fifth and had a successful bunt in the four-run second ... Tulowitzki and second baseman Ryan Goins turned a nifty double play on an Aaron Hick grounder to end the second ... Initially Colabello was charged with an error after a long run in foul ground in the third, however, official score keeper Herb Morrell later ruled no play on the foul pop.