Toronto Blue Jays Highlights and Lowlights: Estrada Struggles Again, Jays Get Walked Off 6-5

The Toronto Blue Jays let a series win walk away from them, as they lose to the Tigers 6-5 in 11 innings.

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After running into the buzzsaw that was Michael Fulmer on Saturday night, the Blue Jays needed a nice rebound start from Marco Estrada to take some pressure off the bullpen and earn their second series win in three attempts. The opposing pitcher, Anibal Sanchez, has been a shadow of his former self since the halycon World Series days of 2012. Could the Blue Jays take advantage?

 

Toronto Blue Jays: 5  R,  10 H,  3 E
Detroit Tigers:  6 R,  8 H, 0 E

 

Starting Pitching Matchup

 

Lineups:

Highlights:

One half of the first inning was absolutely great. Despite a quick two outs, Josh Donaldson coaxed a walk out of Sanchez to keep the inning alive and boy did the Blue Jays make the ex-Marlin pay for that free pass. All-Star (for the rest of his playing days) Justin Smoak smashed a two-run home run to downtown Sault Ste. Marie, and was immediately followed by Kendrys Morales cranking one to Ypsilanti. A 3-0 lead for the Blue Jays after one frame is a rare sight. Rarer because of what happened after…

After falling behind 4-3, it would have been easy for the Blue Jays to give up. But Jose don’t play that. With Ryan Goins aboard, Jose Bautista atoned for some lackadaisical defense with a bomb to the outskirts of Owen Sound to put the Blue Jays ahead 5-4 in the fifth. Alas, this lead was also destined to fade into the night.

Lowlights:

The other half of the first inning was a gong show, and Marco Estrada almost got drummed off the stage early. Blue Jays trade target Ian Kinsler walked and Nick Castellanos rapped a ground ball that Donaldson couldn’t corral in time. All-Star (also for the rest of his playing days) Justin Upton launched a double down the left field line that Carrera managed to keep from scoring multiple runs. Back-to-back sacrifice flies are nowhere near as exciting as back-to-back homers, but they count all the same as Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez tied the game. A Victor Martinez walk on three straight low changeups prompted a John Gibbons duckwalk to the mound, but Estrada finally got through the 11 striking out Alex Presley on 11 pitches. To put it mildly, yikes.

Estrada couldn’t get the job done. He only lasted 3.2 innings and took 94 pitches to get that far. MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson noted a 1-3 mph drop in speed from his average velocity this year. Teams have caught up with his fastball/changeup arsenal, and it’s not unlikely that Estrada is dealing with more lingering health issues in his efforts to prove his value in his walk year.

A tired bullpen was called in to do a lot for the second straight day, and in passing the baton along, it was Danny Barnes who couldn’t hang on to it. A solid shot from Blue Jays trade target J.D. Martinez bounced beside Bautista’s glove, and after initially being ruled a double, it was changed on review to a game-tying solo shot. Barnes did settle down after that, getting the next five outs, but it was still disappointing to see another lead thrown away. Then there was no one left for the 11th inning. Jeff Beliveau and Lucas Harrell combined to allow four runners on base, and that can’t happen when one run is all the other team needs. That walk-off walk was the final nail in the coffin in a team that really needs Joe Smith back.

Miguel Montero allowed three stolen bases on four attempts and was 0-for-5. Don’t think Jake Arrieta was the problem. I think it’s just whatever fortune cookie Ross Atkins grabbed that said “Your backup catcher shall forever hit bagels.”

Also, the defense as a whole was just bad. Another three errors, Troy Tulowitzki‘s eighth, Donaldson’s eighth and the first for Morales, along with Bautista’s misplays in the outfield, and it’s clear the disadvantages of an aging team in the field. They can’t keep up and it’s burning the Blue Jays with all these outs escaping their grasp.

Noteworthy:

  • Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers were sniffing around J.A. Happ in addition to Oakland’s Sonny Gray.It’s mostly due to the sheer drop-off in available talent once Gray is off the market, and Estrada did the Blue Jays a favor if Happ is indeed on the table.

  • Ain’t no rest for the wicked, as the Blue Jays begin a four-game series against the division-leading Boston Red Sox on Monday at Fenway Park. Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.28 ERA) takes on the returning Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.54 ERA).
  • The Tigers meanwhile travel to Kansas City to start a four-game set with the Royals.

Player of the Game:

 

 

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Ryan has been immersed in sports from a young age, since he could read Jr. Jays comics as they filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. He’s been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well as his own Tailpipe Sports blog. He’s been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute as he forges a career in the sports journalism industry. He brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! rethink letting Canadians onto their program.

Ryan Andrews

Ryan has been immersed in sports from a young age, since he could read Jr. Jays comics as they filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. He’s been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well as his own Tailpipe Sports blog. He’s been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute as he forges a career in the sports journalism industry. He brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! rethink letting Canadians onto their program.