Colorado Rockies tally nine in the 6th and 7th to chase Estrada, and send the Blue Jays bullpen home with a mile high headache.
The Blue Jays rolled into picturesque Coors Field on Monday night looking to right the ship and get themselves back into the conversation for the American League East. It was a big night for ex-Rockie Troy Tulowitzki, who would be playing in his first game at Coors since his trade to Toronto ended his 10 season run with Colorado.
Toronto would get to the Rockies’ starter Jon Gray quickly in the first inning. Taking no time to feel things out Ezequiel Carerra hit a long fly ball for an out to the centerfield wall, he was followed by Devon Travis who did him one better by depositing his fly ball over the wall for his 5th of the season, and a Toronto 1-0 lead.
Both pitchers would settle in nicely through the first five innings. Gray would surrender one base-runner — HBP of Russell Martin — after the Travis HR. Estrada would allow two hits, both singles to Cristhian Adames, and Brandon Barnes, along with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Devon Travis would get things going again in the sixth inning. After shooting a 2-out double into the rightfield corner, he was driven home by a Josh Donaldson single to left to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. At this point he has 2 of the 3 Blue Jays hits and both of their runs scored.
Of course, like many days this past month, Edwin Encarnacion decided it was his turn to get on the board as he hit his 20th home run of the season to cash in Donaldson and give the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. Encarnacion’s 2 RBIs on the HR were his league leading 67th and 68th of the season.
Colorado would strike quickly in their half of the sixth inning to get themselves back in the game. After a leadoff walk to Charlie Blackmon, and a Adames double, the perennial all-star left-fielder, Carlos Gonzalez, would deposit his 17th HR of 2016 into the second deck to shrink the Blue Jays lead to 4-3. Estrada would go on to surrender a double to Mark Reynolds in the inning, but would escape without further damage. Despite the three runs, Estrada, would extend his record-setting streak of 6IP with 5H or less, to 12 games.
Pillar would lace a 2-out seventh inning double to the leftfield corner, which effectively ended Estrada’s night. With his turn in the order coming up next, Justin Smoak, would be called on to pinch hit. Estrada’s final line for the night would read as 6IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB and 8K on 91 pitches.
With the starting pitcher out of the game after six, the Blue Jays leaned on their bullpen for the last three innings. First out of the pen was Drew Storen. The reliever would surrender a single to the first hitter he would see in the seventh, but in a weird twist of events the Rockies would pinch hit their pitcher with a …….pitcher. Wednesday’s scheduled starter Tyler Anderson would drop an effective sacrifice to push the runner to second with one out. The National League is weird.
Unfortunately, things would get messy for Storen after he proceeded to hit Blackmon and Adames with pitches to load the bases with one out. Nolan Arenado — the National league leader in RBIs — would rip a 2-run single to left field to give the Rockies their first lead of the night, 5-4.
Jesse Chavez would inherit a one out, runners on first and second situation, with Gonzalez coming to the plate. CarGo as he affectionately called would line a single to CF, but Colorado would fail to score on the hit. With the bases loaded, Chavez, would not be able to stop the bleeding. A run scoring walk, a two run double, and a run scoring double off the top of the wall would follow to give the Rockies an 9-4 lead. Chavez would be lifted from the game with 2-outs in favour of Ryan Tepera. Mercifully, Tepera would strikeout PH Ryan Raburn to end the seventh inning.
Encarnacion would add to his season totals by knocking his 21st home run into the bullpen in right-centre in the ninth inning. This would bring the Blue Jays to within 4, at 9-5, but that would be as close as they would get.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Tonight’s game ball goes to Edwin Encarnacion. His 2 for 4 night included his 20th and 21st home runs of the season — his 10th and 11th this month — along with 3 RBIs that give him a league leading 69, along with 2 runs.
Tonight’s turning point came in Colorado’s half of the seventh inning. Their offense would score 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 HBP off Storen and Chavez to turn a 1-run deficit into to a 5-run lead before all was said and done.
NEWS & NOTES
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) June 27, 2016
A nice scene at Coors Field for, Tulowitzki, as Rockies fans saluted his return with a standing ovation.
WATCH: Tulowitzki gets a huge ovation and tips his cap in return to Coors Field. pic.twitter.com/3XPLfdurJx
— Mile High Sports (@MileHighSports) June 28, 2016
Toronto’s next game is tomorrow evening in Denver, Colorado for the second game of the three game series. The game will see LHP J.A. Happ face off against RHP Eddie Butler. Check out our series preview here for an in-depth breakdown of the match-up.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III-flickr – UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.