Before Friday’s game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was preaching patience for his club, whose once overflowing offence had dried to barely a trickle the last week.

These Jays, the league leaders in runs scored just a few days ago, were too good to stay cold for long, he said.

“You just got to ride it out, it’s just the way the game is,” Gibbons said. “I don’t care how good or bad you are you go through these periods . . . the game flips on you.”

So it was with some relief that Juan Francisco drove a deep fly ball over the centre field wall in the second inning to give the Jays an early 2-0 lead against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Though hardly an onslaught, Francisco’s long drive was something of a breakthrough for the slumping club. It was their first homer in four games — they still lead the majors with 92 bombs on the season — but more importantly, it marked the first time in their last nine games the Jays scored first.

Staked to an early lead, starter Drew Hutchison didn’t give, throwing seven shutout innings as the Jays tacked on two more late-inning runs to blank the Orioles 4-0, despite only notching four hits.
The win halts the Jays’ three-game losing skid and lifts them back into a 4.5 lead atop the American League East.

“Felt like the toughest game we won all year, if you want to know the truth,” Gibbons said.

A command pitcher, Hutchison is at his best when he’s filling the strike zone, which he did on Friday, throwing 70 of his 96 pitches for strikes and not issuing a single walk. The 23-year-old right-hander breezed through the first three innings, giving up a pair of hits but needing just 34 pitches. He ran into trouble in the fourth, loading the bases on three singles — two of them infield hits — but escaped the jam, and allowed just one other base-runner the rest of the night.