Blue Jays’ Bullpen Woes Spoil Strong Estrada Start

Toronto’s Bullpen problems resurface to spoil another stellar start by Estrada. Blue Jays drop game and series to the Dodgers.

For the third and final game of the weekend series with Los Angeles, Toronto sent Marco Estrada to the hill to face Dodger rookie Ross Stripling. With the series tied at a game apiece both teams were looking to get the last one – and get above .500 – before hitting the road.

What took place on this Mother’s Day was one of the best pitching duels we have seen so far during the young 2016 season.

Stripling used his excellent command and off speed pitches to help put together a six inning, one hit, six strikeout performance. His only blemish came in the third when a leadoff double by Kevin Pillar was pushed across by a ground ball to the right side from Russell Martin to get Pillar to third, and a RBI ground out by second baseman Ryan Goins. At the time it gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead that would last into the seventh inning.

Estrada equalled the Dodgers starter pitch-for-pitch through the his first six innings. In fact, he was working on a no-hitter through five innings until a sixth inning Trayce Thompson double broke it up.  Estrada was able to work his way through that inning while hanging on to the slim 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, his bid for a shutout was ruined when Joc Pederson took a seventh inning hanging curveball over the right field wall to tie the score at one apiece. The righty finished the inning – his last of the day – putting up an excellent final line of 7IP, 3H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8K.

The Blue Jays were able to put together a small rally to lake a 2-1 lead against Dodger reliever Chris Hatcher in the bottom of the seventh inning which began with a Justin Smoak two out single. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki followed with a walk before a Pillar single pushed Smoak to third, and eventually home when the right fielder, Thompson fumbled the ball.

Unfortunately, the bullpen woes came back to bite Toronto in the eighth once again. Drew Storen who was looking to build on a couple strong appearances of late, began the inning by surrendering a leadoff walk to Chase Utley, which was followed by a Corey Seager ground-rule double to right field. Without recording an out in the inning Storen was removed  for Roberto Osuna.

Coming into a tough spot, Osuna, was able to strikeout Justin Turner looking to record the first out of the inning. After intentionally walking slugger Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases, a Yasmani Grandal sac-fly RBI, and Howie Kendrick RBI single gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

The ninth was much of the same with Jesse Chavez and Chad Girodo surrendering three singles between them that plated a run for a 4-2 Los Angeles lead. Fortunately Gavin Floyd was able to extinguish the Dodgers rally by recording two big strikeouts to keep the deficit at two.

The Dodgers’ relievers Pedro Baez – who recorded two outs in the eighth – and Kenley Jansen closed this one out while surrendering two hits, and striking out three over the final two innings. Jensen recorded his eleventh save in as many attempts this season.

Play of the Game:

With a runner on first and two outs Dodgers’ second baseman Chase Utley snared a soft line drive off the bat of Jose Bautista. If Utley is unable to snag this ball it probably would have extended the giving Edwin Encarnacion a chance to come to the plate with two runners aboard.

Game Ball:

Today’s game ball goes to Toronto’s starting pitcher Marco Estrada. The crafty righty worked a stellar seven innings only surrendering one run on three hits, including five no hits innings to start the game.

Turning Point:

The turning point came in the top half of the eighth inning. The Dodgers were able to plate two runs on three hits to take a 3-2 lead. With the Blue Jays unable to mount a comeback in the last two innings, this was all the opposing bullpen needed to take the win.

News & Notes:

Toronto reliever Brett Cecil strangely remained in the bullpen in this game despite throwing in the ninth to apparently get some work in before leaving for maternity leave. He will miss the entire San Francisco series.

Next Game:

The Blue Jays will be making their first west coast trip of the season to take on the San Francisco Giants of the National League West. Check in with us here to get information on the pitching matchups for the three game series.



Featured Image Credit: Kris Robinson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0



W Black

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.