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Blue Jays can't back Estrada's solid outing

Righty dealt tough-luck loss in 4th straight quality start
MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Marco Estrada's midseason resurgence continued Friday night but the veteran right-hander doesn't have much to show for it thanks to a lack of run support.

Estrada tossed his fourth consecutive quality start but it wasn't enough to avoid a 2-1 loss to the Angels. Toronto put up nine hits in the defeat, but only one of them came with runners in scoring position as the Blue Jays were saddled with their second consecutive loss.

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ANAHEIM -- Marco Estrada's midseason resurgence continued Friday night but the veteran right-hander doesn't have much to show for it thanks to a lack of run support.

Estrada tossed his fourth consecutive quality start but it wasn't enough to avoid a 2-1 loss to the Angels. Toronto put up nine hits in the defeat, but only one of them came with runners in scoring position as the Blue Jays were saddled with their second consecutive loss.

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Video: TOR@LAA: Travis drives in Diaz on a double to right

The 34-year-old Estrada scattered three hits and two walks while allowing two runs over seven strong innings. He has allowed a total of five earned runs over 25 2/3 innings this month with 26 strikeouts compared to five walks. Estrada's ERA, which was 5.68 at the end of May, has since dropped to 4.48.

"Honestly, it has just been getting on top of the baseball," Estrada said of the recent success. "I feel l'm spinning the ball a little bit better. The fastball has a little bit more life. It's the same velocity, but I just feel like there's more life behind it. We've been using every pitch. Not today so much, we threw a lot of fastballs and my changeup didn't feel that great today, but the games before this we've used a lot of cutters and curveballs."

The only real difficulty that Estrada encountered against the Angels came in the first inning, when Justin Upton drew a two-out walk and then came around to score on an RBI double by Albert Pujols. Luis Valbuena followed in the next at-bat with a single to right, and just like that the Angels had a lead that would hold up for the rest of the game.

Toronto's offense was led by Steve Pearce, who had a three-hit night in his first game since returning from the 10-day disabled list. Kendrys Morales also chipped in with a pair of singles and Devon Travis added an RBI double in the top of the seventh to cut the Angels' lead to one, but that was as close as the Blue Jays would get. Toronto finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

Since the start of June, Estrada has a 0.818 WHIP, 9.12 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.75 walks per nine innings to accompany a 2-1 record, but that was of little consolation on Friday night.

"Sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles," Pearce said. "Marco did well. We hit the ball, we just didn't have timely hits. They didn't hit the ball that well and they had a couple of timely hits. That was the difference in the game and unfortunately it didn't fall our way tonight."

Angels lefty Andrew Heaney picked up the victory and ate up some valuable innings for his overworked bullpen. He allowed one run on nine hits while striking out four and not walking a single batter. Heaney has allowed three runs or less in three of his last four starts, while the Blue Jays' saw their struggles against left-handed starters continue. Toronto is just 9-20 in games started by a lefty this season, which includes losing 13 of the last 14.

Toronto has dropped 10 of its last 11 road games and are 14-21 away from home this season. The Blue Jays are 1-4 against the Angels in 2018 with a 5-13 record against the American League West. At the conclusion of this four-game series, Toronto's West Coast road trip continues with a three-game set in Houston.

"We threw some hits up there, we just couldn't get that big one," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Both pitchers pitched really well. Marco did a hell of a job. Heaney did a great job. It was one of those ballgames, a big hit could have made a difference."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Caught looking: The Blue Jays' best opportunity to even the score came in the top of the seventh after Travis hit an RBI double. Toronto had its much needed runner in scoring position and Pearce later followed with a line-drive single to center, but then Justin Smoak struck out looking and Yangervis Solarte grounded out to end the threat. Smoak took exception to the third-strike call, which appeared to be a little bit low and inside, and exchanged words with home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez, but Smoak ultimately stayed in the game.

Video: TOR@LAA: Heaney gets Smoak looking in the 7th inning

The grab: Russell Martin thought he had extra bases in the top of the second when he sent a pitch from Heaney deep to left field. Justin Upton turned his back on the ball as he sprinted to the warning track, but he turned around just in time to make a leaping grab at the wall. Morales was forced to return to first base and the Blue Jays' threat came to an end in the next at-bat when Randal Grichuk hit into a fielder's choice.

Video: TOR@LAA: Upton makes catch while crashing into wall

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays lost a game when allowing three or fewer hits for the first time since June 21, 2016, against Arizona. It's the first time it's happen on the road since May 27, 2007, at Minnesota.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Blue Jays won their challenge in the top of the seventh. With Travis on second base representing the potential tying run, Pearce hit a sinking line drive to center. Michael Hermosillo appeared to hesitate before running in and trying to come up with the sliding catch. There was some confusion on the field when the play unfolded because it took a few seconds before first-base umpire Andy Fletcher signalled the out call. Gibbons challenged and won, but Travis had to remain at second base where he would be later stranded.

"What happened is the guy on second base, if he thinks he's going to catch it, he has to head back to the bag," Gibbons said. "I'm sure they looked at it that way. That's not an easy call, first-base umpire has to go out. They got it right but we still only had one out and couldn't put that run across."

Video: TOR@LAA: Pearce singles after overturned call in 7th

UP NEXT
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (0-5, 7.71) will make his return from the 10-day disabled list when the Blue Jays continue their four-game series against the Angels on Saturday night, with first pitch scheduled for 9:07 p.m. ET. Stroman is coming off three rehab starts, including two simulated games, in the Minors, but he has not pitched for the Blue Jays since May 8 because of a right shoulder injury. The Angels will counter with right-hander Jaime Barria (5-3, 3.57).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Donaldson (calf) at least a week from return

MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss at least another week because of a problematic left calf muscle that has kept him out of the lineup since May 28.

Donaldson has been considered day to day for the better part of two weeks but he still has to pass a series of running drills before the three-time All-Star will be cleared for a return to the field.

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ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss at least another week because of a problematic left calf muscle that has kept him out of the lineup since May 28.

Donaldson has been considered day to day for the better part of two weeks but he still has to pass a series of running drills before the three-time All-Star will be cleared for a return to the field.

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Once Donaldson receives final clearance, he is expected to begin a brief rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. That is unlikely to happen this weekend or at the start of next week, when Toronto has a three-game series against the Astros. The earliest date for Donaldson's return would appear to be June 29 for a home game against the Tigers.

"I wouldn't think so, but I don't know for sure," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked about Donaldson's availability for the Houston series, which starts Monday. "I hope by the time we get home."

Donaldson has been limited to 36 games this season because of the calf issue and a right shoulder injury that plagued him earlier in the year. The native of Florida is batting .234/.333/.423 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in limited action.

Pearce returns, Barnes departs
Left fielder Steve Pearce made a triumphant return to the Blue Jays' lineup during Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Angels by going 3-for-4 with a double. Pearce was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to the game after he fully recovered from a strained oblique muscle that had sidelined him since May 3.

Pearce recently completed a four-game rehab assignment with Buffalo, where he had four hits in 11 at-bats, including a three-run homer. His first game back in the big leagues brought the same amount of success at the plate.

"It felt comfortable," Pearce said of his return. "That was the whole plan, when I was in Triple-A, just find a way to get comfortable and just bring that up here. Fortunately that happened."

To make room for Pearce on the 25-man roster, Toronto placed right-hander Danny Barnes on the 10-day DL with left knee tendinitis. Barnes tossed two-thirds of an inning in Thursday night's 8-5 loss and he allowed one run after walking three batters and allowing one hit. The move means the Blue Jays are back to a seven-man bullpen.

Right-hander Sam Gaviglio also made his return to the Blue Jays on Friday after being away on paternity leave for the previous three games. Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was optioned to Buffalo to make room on the 25-man roster. Gaviglio was available out of the bullpen on Friday night, but did not have to pitch and he remains the favorite to start Sunday.

"Good to see Pearcey," Gibbons said. "It's been a while. They said he was playing pretty good down there ... Pearcey can hit. He can really hit left-handers, but you don't mind him against righties, either. I think we missed him when he was gone, no doubt."

Sanchez still 'tender'
Gibbons said right-hander Aaron Sanchez's right index finger is still a little "tender" after he was forced to leave Thursday night's start after one inning because of a contusion on his knuckle. Sanchez declined to say how the injury occurred but he admitted that it took place away from the field and that his finger had swollen up quite a bit.

Video: TOR@LAA: Sanchez leaves game with a finger contusion

The Blue Jays still aren't sure whether Sanchez will be able to make his next start and his availability will have repercussions for the rest of the rotation. Right-hander Marcus Stroman is set to come off the DL prior to Saturday night's game, which means the Blue Jays have to remove a member of the current starting five.

Toronto was in the process of choosing between Gaviglio and veteran lefty Jaime Garcia for the final starting job when Sanchez went down. If Sanchez has to miss a start, then the other two pitchers likely will remain where they are, but Gibbons said that Sunday's starter remained to be determined.

"It's tender," Gibbons said of Sanchez. "We'll see how that develops the next couple of days."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson

Biagini gets photo with fan's sign

How big is your fandom? Sure, you probably have a favorite team and enjoy watching specific players do their thing on the diamond, but do you make and bring signs to the ballpark?

If you do (and if you're visiting a stadium that allows them), you could end up having an experience similar to the one a Blue Jays fan had on Friday night in Anaheim. Seated along the left-field line before Toronto's game with the Angels, she brought a sign to show her appreciation for pitcher Joe Biagini -- and he appreciated the sign. A lot. 

Blue Jays' Osuna suspended for 75 games

Discipline, retroactive to May 8, will run through Aug. 4; reliever won't appeal
MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna has been issued a 75-game suspension without pay that will run through Aug. 4 for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement late Friday afternoon. The suspension is retroactive to May 8, which is when Osuna was placed on administrative leave after he was charged with assault in Toronto. Osuna has agreed not to appeal the disciplinary action.

ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna has been issued a 75-game suspension without pay that will run through Aug. 4 for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement late Friday afternoon. The suspension is retroactive to May 8, which is when Osuna was placed on administrative leave after he was charged with assault in Toronto. Osuna has agreed not to appeal the disciplinary action.

The Blue Jays issued a statement saying they "support the decision by the Commissioner's Office" to suspend Osuna and that the club will not be making any further comments at this time. Per the terms in MLB's policy, Osuna will participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the Joint Policy Board.

"My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Roberto Osuna violated Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy on May 8, 2018," Manfred said in a statement. "Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Osuna violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on August 4th."

Osuna has been away from the Blue Jays since he was charged with assault. On Monday, his lawyer, Domenic Basile, was in a Toronto courtroom for a brief preliminary hearing, and a judge later adjourned his case until July 9. Basile said his client intended to plead not guilty and that he would be meeting with the crown attorney to discuss how the next couple of weeks will unfold.

According to Basile, Osuna has been working out in Florida while he has been away on an administrative leave. Osuna was released on bail shortly after his arrest in May, and as part of the bail conditions he was ordered to abstain from communicating directly or indirectly with the alleged victim.

"You take what MLB does, trust that and live with it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Let everything go through its course. You knew something was coming down. ... Hopefully that all gets worked out, both sides, and everybody gets the help they need and everything works out fine for all involved."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Roberto Osuna

Sanchez exits after 1 inning with finger injury

X-rays negative; issue unrelated to last season's blister problem
MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Aaron Sanchez has another finger injury to deal with, but the good news is that it's not the same blister issue that caused him to miss almost the entire 2017 season.

Sanchez left Thursday night's 8-5 loss to the Angels after one inning because of a contusion on his right index finger. He was sent for X-rays, which came back negative, but it's still too early to say whether Sanchez will miss a start or require a stint on the disabled list.

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ANAHEIM -- Aaron Sanchez has another finger injury to deal with, but the good news is that it's not the same blister issue that caused him to miss almost the entire 2017 season.

Sanchez left Thursday night's 8-5 loss to the Angels after one inning because of a contusion on his right index finger. He was sent for X-rays, which came back negative, but it's still too early to say whether Sanchez will miss a start or require a stint on the disabled list.

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The Blue Jays remained vague in the details of how the injury occurred. Sanchez said, "That's not important," when asked how it happened, but he did say he jammed his finger before arriving at Angel Stadium for his start.

"I just jammed my finger," Sanchez said after the game. "Swelling started to come. Right when I got here, I put some ice on it, figured I could pitch through it. The motion was still OK for me, enough to go. But every time I threw, it just got worse. There was no sense in staying out there."

Thursday's short start was frustrating for Sanchez on multiple levels. He was on a roll, having allowed three runs or fewer in each of his previous three starts. He was finally rounding into form after a rough May, and now there's a risk that his upward trajectory will at least be put on hold.

Then there's the fact that Sanchez had this series circled on his calendar before the year even began. The 25-year-old grew up in nearby Barstow. He had lots of friends and family in town for the occasion, and the only other time he got to pitch in this ballpark was in 2015, when he tossed one inning out of the bullpen in a lopsided 12-5 win.

"When it first happened, I kind of just shook my hand and said, 'Ow,'" Sanchez said. "I didn't really think anything of it. I kept the motion going. I pulled on it just in case it did get jammed. I wanted to make sure I kept that motion and not have swelling creeping in there right away. When it first happened, I didn't really think anything of it. As the day kind of went on, it got worse."

The status of Sanchez's finger will have repercussions throughout the rest of the Blue Jays rotation. Marcus Stroman is set to return from the DL on Saturday afternoon, which initially meant the Blue Jays were going to have to remove someone from the rotation. That was going to be either Jaime Garcia or Sam Gaviglio, but it's now possible that both pitchers will stay right where they are.

Prior to Thursday's game, Garcia appeared to be the odd-man out, as manager John Gibbons talked openly about how the club was considering moving him to the bullpen. Garcia's status was put in limbo after his struggles continued during a recent outing against Atlanta. Garcia has managed to complete six innings just three times in 13 starts this season and he sports a 6.16 ERA thanks in large part to averaging 4.5 walks per nine innings.

"He banged it," Gibbons said when asked for a timeline. "I couldn't tell you any more than that."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Aaron Sanchez

Blue Jays hit 3 HRs, but Sanchez's exit is costly

MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays hit three homers, but they lost Aaron Sanchez to a finger injury after one inning and the repercussions of that short start lingered all night.

Toronto's bullpen was hit hard, early and often, in an 8-5 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. Right-hander John Axford surrendered a pair of two-run homers, while Danny Barnes walked three over two-thirds of an inning as the Blue Jays attempted to piece together the game after another unfortunate setback.

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ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays hit three homers, but they lost Aaron Sanchez to a finger injury after one inning and the repercussions of that short start lingered all night.

Toronto's bullpen was hit hard, early and often, in an 8-5 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. Right-hander John Axford surrendered a pair of two-run homers, while Danny Barnes walked three over two-thirds of an inning as the Blue Jays attempted to piece together the game after another unfortunate setback.

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Sanchez was limited to one inning because of a contusion on his right index finger. He suffered the injury before he arrived at the ballpark but declined to say how it happened. The Blue Jays hoped he would still be able to pitch, but after one painful inning it was clear his night would be a short one.

Sanchez exits after 1 inning with finger injury

Video: TOR@LAA: Sanchez leaves game with a finger contusion

"We took the lead, but that's one of those games. When someone goes out in the first inning, any blip is probably going to cost you," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You know you're going to have to overextend some guys a bit. They got a couple of big homers off Ax. He has been dominating left-handers all year, and two lefties got him today."

The 25-year-old Sanchez was charged with two runs but the big blows came off Axford, who served up a two-run shot to Kole Calhoun in the fourth and another two-run shot to Luis Valbuena in the fifth. The were the first home runs by lefties Axford has allowed this season. Valbuena added a solo shot in the seventh off Preston Guilmet for the eighth multihomer game of his career.

Video: TOR@LAA: Gurriel Jr. slugs a solo shot to left-center

The bullpen's struggles overshadowed a productive night for the Blue Jays' offense. Rookie infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who is expected to be sent back to the Minors when right-hander Sam Gaviglio returns this weekend from a paternity leave, went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and his third home run of the season. Randal Grichuk and Kendrys Morales also homered and Justin Smoak added an RBI double, but it wasn't enough.

"Lefties haven't been touching him all year," Gibbons said of Axford. "That's baseball. Move on. Bounce back."

The Angels had their own pitching issues, as left-handed starter Tyler Skaggs was scratched before the game because of a sore hamstring. Lefty John Lamb took his place on short notice and allowed three runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings. The key for Los Angeles might have been the next reliever, Noe Ramirez, who tossed 2 2/3 scoreless for the win.

Video: TOR@LAA: Grichuk slugs a solo homer to right field

Toronto has now lost three of its four games against the Angels this season. The Blue Jays have also lost nine of their last 10 road games and have a 14-20 record away from Rogers Centre. Toronto will want to reverse course on that in a hurry because the club is one game into a seven-game, seven-day trip through Los Angeles and Houston.

The more pressing concern for the Blue Jays than Thursday night's loss is Sanchez's health. He will need to be reevaluated in the coming days to determine his availability for a start against the Astros early next week.

"When I got here, I showed everybody and they put ice on it right away," Sanchez said. "I still wanted to pitch. It's a big day for me. Coming back home and getting to pitch in front of my friends and family. That part sucks. But what are you going to do? I have to use my hands. ... It just sucks it happened the way it happened. I'll get whatever I need to get done on it."

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays lost for just the second time this season when scoring five or more runs. Toronto entered play 28-1 when scoring at least five, giving it the highest winning percentage in the American League, second in the Majors to Arizona (27-0).

HE SAID IT
"I feel for the kid, because I love the kid. He had that tough year last year. He was coming off the ERA king in the American League, which is very difficult to do. He had those finger issues last year and he had been pitching pretty good lately. Hopefully this isn't a big deal and the finger calms down." -- Gibbons, on Sanchez

UP NEXT
Right-hander Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.66 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue this four-game series at 10:07 p.m. ET on Friday night. Estrada is on a bit of a roll, having allowed three earned runs over his last three starts. He went at least six innings in each of those starts and has walked just three batters over his last 18 2/3 innings. The Angels will counter with left-hander Andrew Heaney (3-5, 3.64).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Hiraldo continues to rake in DSL

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Making his sixth start for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, Eli Morgan turned in the best outing of his young career.

Morgan, the Indians' No. 28 prospect, did not allow a hit over six dominant innings, issuing one walk and matching his career high with nine strikeouts as he and a trio of Hillcats relievers combined to fire a one-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory against Myrtle Beach. He threw a season-high 91 pitches in the outing, 59 for strikes.

After retiring the first eight batters of the game, Morgan issued a two-out walk in the third inning that ended his bid at perfection. It was the only blemish on his performance, as the 22-year-old righty proceeded to set down the final 10 batters en route to facing one over the minimum.

Morgan has proved to be one of the biggest 2017 Draft steals in his first full season. The eighth-round selection out of Gonzaga has pitched to a 2.62 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP and 40-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 1/3 innings (six starts) with Lynchburg after a dominant start to his season at Class A Lake County, where he logged a 1.83 ERA with 56 strikeouts and eight walks in 44 1/3 innings.

Overall, Morgan owns a 2.17 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 14 starts this season across the two levels. He's held opposing hitters to a paltry .186 average in that span while compiling 96 strikeouts and 14 walks in 78 2/3 innings.

Right-handed reliever James Karinchak (No. 22) locked down his seventh save of the season to seal the Hillcats' combined one-hitter. Another steal from the 2017 Draft, when he was a ninth-round pick out of Bryant University, Karinchak has dominated to the tune of a 0.68 ERA with a .180 opponents' average and 47 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings (20 appearances) this season between Lake County and Lynchburg.

Offensively, Mitch Longo (No. 27) provided all the run support the Lynchburg hurlers would need when he led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder finished the game 1-for-2, also reaching base via a walk and a hit-by-pitch. He's hitting .289/.340/.417 with four home runs in 60 games this season -- matching the exact total he produced over 60 contests between Lake County and Lynchburg in 2017.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Thursday

No. 6 overall prospect Nick Senzel (Reds' No. 1) hit a solo homer and later added a two-run shot to account for all of Triple-A Louisville's offense in a 13-3 loss against Durham. The multihomer performance, the third of Senzel's career, gives him six homers on the season and also pushed his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he's raised his average from .256 to .310 while recording nine multihit efforts.

Senzel's second homer

• No. 10 overall prospect Kyle Tucker (Astros' No. 1) is halfway to his second straight 20-homer, 20-stolen base season after recording his 10th home run and 12th stolen base in a 3-for-5 game for Triple-A Fresno. He's hitting .306 for the season, thanks largely to a 10-game hitting streak during which he owns a .449 average (22-for-44) with three homers, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored.

• No. 13 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) hit a three-run homer in the third inning that proved the difference in Class A Cedar Rapids' 5-4 win over Wisconsin. He finished 2-for-4 at the plate in what was his fourth straight multihit game for the Kernels. The 19-year-old shortstop has been remarkable in his first full season, hitting .305/.347/.469 with 23 extra-base hits (7 HR), 40 RBIs and 16 steals in 56 games.

Lewis goes yard

• No. 27 overall prospect Kyle Wright (Braves' No. 3) struck out eight batters over seven innings, matching his career-best marks in both categories, as Double-A Mississippi downed Jacksonville, 11-2. He allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits, throwing 67 of his 97 pitches for strikes, and did not issue a walk for the first time in 15 starts this season. It was the best home start of 2018 for the 22-year-old righty, who sports a 1.91 ERA (42 1/3 IP) on the road compared to a 6.82 ERA (34 1/3 IP) in Mississippi. Alex Jackson (No. 14) paced the M-Braves offensively by going 4-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.

• No. 37 overall prospect Jesus Sanchez (Rays' No. 4) blasted a grand slam and went 3-for-4 to help power Class A Advanced Charlotte past Palm Beach, 10-1. The 20-year-old outfielder has homered nine times in 59 games and ranks among the Florida State League leaders with a .328 average (third), 124 total bases (first) and 45 RBIs (tied, first).

• No. 54 overall prospect Yordan Alvarez (Astros' No. 3) stayed red hot with a 3-for-4 performance that included a two-run homer in Double-A Corpus Christi's 4-2 win over Frisco. In five games since coming off the disabled list, the 20-year-old outfielder is hitting .478 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and four multihit performances. For the season, Alvarez owns a .331/.390/.608 batting line with nine homers and 36 RBIs in 32 games.

• Making his Triple-A debut, No. 96 overall prospect Griffin Canning (Angels' No. 5) posted zeros for the ninth time in 13 starts this season, tossing four scoreless frames in Salt Lake's win over Tacoma. He mixed two hits with three walks and six strikeouts while throwing 51 of his 87 pitches for strikes over four innings. Canning, a 2017 second-rounder, has been sensational in his first full season, pitching to a 1.54 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 33 hits allowed in 58 1/3 innings across three levels.

Blue Jays No. 12 prospect Miguel Hiraldo recorded his third four-hit performance in 16 games for Toronto's Dominican Summer League affiliate. He reached base in all five plate appearances, going 4-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and a stolen base. The 17-year-old shortstop, signed for $750,000 a little more than a year ago, is slashing .429/.493/.667 with 10 extra-base hits and eight multihit efforts in 16 games to begin his career.

Royals No. 3 prospect Seuly Matias connected on his Minor League-leading 23rd home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth inning of Class A Lexington's 9-8 loss against Charleston. He reached base three times in the contest, finishing 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. The 19-year-old slugger has gone deep nine times in 20 games this month after homering seven times in each of the season's first two months.

Royals No. 6 prospect Nicky Lopez hit for the cycle in order, tallying a single, double, triple and home run in the first six innings of Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 17-3 rout of Tulsa. He finished 5-for-6 with two RBIs and four runs scored out of the leadoff spot. The 23-year-old middle infielder is raking in the Texas League, as Thursday's performance gives him a .332/.398/.420 batting line and 91 hits through 71 games.

Lopez hits for the cycle

Tigers No. 11 prospect Mike Gerber went 2-for-5 with a pair of two-run homers as Triple-A Toledo fell to Gwinnett, 7-6. It was the 25-year-old outfielder's first multi-homer performance this season and fifth of his career. He owns a .220 average with seven homers in 37 games this season.

Twins No. 11 prospect Lewis Thorpe racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts and carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning before completing seven scoreless innings of one-hit, one-walk ball in Double-A Chattanooga's 12-2 win over Biloxi. The 22-year-old left-hander faced two over the minimum in the outing, permitting a two-out single in the fifth and a one-out walk in the following frame. He recorded at least two strikeouts in each of the first five innings and ultimately threw 60 of his 84 pitches for strikes in the season-long outing. Thorpe has 86 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings on the year to go along with a 4.26 ERA.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

The most pressing question facing Blue Jays

While the Yanks and Red Sox look to add, the other three will weigh offers for current stars
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

The decision-makers for each team are entering the busy season, and their phones should be buzzing with possibilities. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and the buyers and sellers are crystal clear in the American League East.

The Yankees and Red Sox are in search of the final pieces that can turn their already strong squads into juggernauts, while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays will likely look to turn enticing trade chips into future gains.

The decision-makers for each team are entering the busy season, and their phones should be buzzing with possibilities. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and the buyers and sellers are crystal clear in the American League East.

The Yankees and Red Sox are in search of the final pieces that can turn their already strong squads into juggernauts, while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays will likely look to turn enticing trade chips into future gains.

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

Here are the key questions for all five AL East clubs as the Deadline draws near.

BLUE JAYS
The question: Will Josh Donaldson recoup enough value in the coming weeks to justify a trade prior to the Deadline?

Donaldson hasn't played since May 28 because of a sore left calf muscle. Before that, a right shoulder injury caused him to miss three weeks in April. As a result, Donaldson has just five home runs and 16 RBIs as the end of June quickly approaches.

The 2015 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner is expected to return soon, but he'll need to bounce back in a hurry if the Blue Jays want to jumpstart a potential rebuild with a big July trade. A qualifying offer at the end of the year remains a possibility, but if Toronto can get a haul for Donaldson before the Deadline, that's the course of action it is expected to take.

ORIOLES
The question: Will superstar Manny Machado be traded?

Machado is a hot commodity on a last-place team, so it seems like a no-brainer that he will be moved. But it's not necessarily a sure thing, as the O's didn't like any of the offers they received during the offseason for their prized shortstop, who can be a free agent after the season.

So what will it take? Young, controllable talent -- preferably pitching -- is what Baltimore wanted last offseeason. Given that Machado is essentially a rental for the team that acquires him, the Orioles won't get an organization-changing haul, but there still will be a lot of pressure to get something of substance in return. Further complicating matters is that O's vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is also in the final year of his contact.

Video: MLB Tonight on the D-backs' interest in Machado

RAYS
The question: Will Chris Archer get traded?

Archer, who is on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, has a deal that pays him $6.4 million this season and $7.7 million in 2019, which is relatively affordable compared to other pitchers of a similar talent level. So the question is, will Archer be healthy by the time the Deadline rolls around, and if he is, can the Rays find a suitable trade partner who values the right-hander enough to part with the prospect haul that they would want in return?

Of course, a trade for Archer, who is one of Tampa Bay's most popular players, would further signal the Rays' decision to get younger, which could have an adverse effect on the team's efforts to get public funding for a new stadium.

RED SOX
The question: Will the Red Sox get another impact arm in 'pen?

In his first two pennant races running Boston's front office, vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski bolstered his bullpen. In 2016, the Red Sox got Brad Ziegler, and he helped the team win the AL East. Addison Reed was similarly effective in helping Boston close out the division last year. With Carson Smith out for the season after injuring his shoulder and Tyler Thornburg still an uncertainty in his rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome, Dombrowski is likely going to have to hit the bullpen market again.

A power left-hander would be a particularly good fit for manager Alex Cora, considering all his best relief arms are right-handed. The cost for Padres southpaw Brad Hand could be exorbitant, but Dombrowski will stay in touch with San Diego all the way up to July 31. Baltimore's Zach Britton is another possibility.

YANKEES
The question: Can they add a starting pitcher?

General manager Brian Cashman has been searching for a starter since the offseason, when the team settled for re-signing CC Sabathia to a one-year contract with a belief that they could upgrade in late July if necessary. As anticipated, the rotation has proven to be a concern, with second-year lefty Jordan Montgomery out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and right-hander Masahiro Tanaka expected to miss a month after straining both hamstrings while running the bases in a game against the Mets.

Video: NYY@NYM: Tanaka feels stiffness in legs after scoring

The Yankees have patched things together by summoning righties Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga from the Minors, but with a postseason berth in sight, Cashman is open to dipping into the club's prospect reserves to add a stabilizing veteran like the Rangers' Cole Hamels or the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ. Cashman recently said that he has touched base with 20 of the 29 other clubs on some level, a number that will certainly inch closer to 29 as July 31 nears.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays

Blue Jays hang on after Happ's strong start

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- There has not been a lot of certainty for the Blue Jays this season, but the one constant continues to be veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.

Happ had yet another solid outing on Wednesday afternoon, as he limited the Braves to four runs on six hits over 8 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Rogers Centre. The 35-year-old became the first Toronto starter to work into the ninth this season, and he also became the first pitcher in the Majors this season to pick up four starts with at least eight strikeouts and zero walks.

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TORONTO -- There has not been a lot of certainty for the Blue Jays this season, but the one constant continues to be veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.

Happ had yet another solid outing on Wednesday afternoon, as he limited the Braves to four runs on six hits over 8 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Rogers Centre. The 35-year-old became the first Toronto starter to work into the ninth this season, and he also became the first pitcher in the Majors this season to pick up four starts with at least eight strikeouts and zero walks.

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With every start that he makes, Happ appears to be increasing his trade value. He's expected to be one of the top starters available prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and while the Blue Jays have yet to confirm any discussions about a possible relocation, it seems inevitable that Happ will be moved at some point in the coming weeks.

Video: ATL@TOR: Gibbons on Happ's strong start in 5-4 win

"I know he's in demand, and I can see why," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "If we were on the other end of it, I'd want him, too. That's the reality of the business. Who knows what happens, but I'm sure he's probably going to be at the top of the list out there for guys who could be acquired. Maybe, I don't know. I try not to look at those kinds of things. All I know is that he has done a lot for this organization, he really turned into one of the better pitchers in the game."

Wednesday's line for Happ would have looked even better if two of his runners hadn't been allowed to score after he left the game. But the way he has been pitching should put the Blue Jays in a prime position to take advantage of a seller's market. After his eight strikeouts Wednesday, Happ ranks 13th in the American League with 102 punchouts. He remains unbeaten over his past seven outings, and he has a 2.35 ERA over that span.

Happ only made a few mistakes in his latest outing, yielding solo home runs by Kurt Suzuki and Peter Bourjos in the second and third innings. Outside of those big flies, the Braves managed to put just one runner in scoring position against Happ through the first eight innings. Happ left the field to a standing ovation in the ninth as fans clearly recognized there might not be too many of his starts left at Rogers Centre.

Video: ATL@TOR: Grichuk smacks an RBI double to left field

This isn't exactly uncharted territory for Happ, who has been traded four times in his career. Three of those trades happened in July, so he knows how to deal with all of the uncertainty, and that experience can only help as the rumors and trade talks start to heat up next month.

"I think I'm a little bit more prepared mentally now, after having been through it a few times," Happ said. "The first time was really emotional, and you kind of get used to it and realize it's part of the business. But I certainly enjoy it here, just trying to continue to have fun."

Kendrys Morales helped provide a bulk of the offense for Toronto on Wednesday afternoon with a 2-for-3 day at the plate, which included a two-run homer in the first inning. Morales, who was celebrating his 35th birthday, also singled and walked while scoring a pair of runs. Right fielder Randal Grichuk chipped in with an RBI double, and Yangervis Solarte notched an RBI single. Atlanta right-hander Anibal Sanchez was charged with the loss after he allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over five innings.

Video: ATL@TOR: Morales hits 4th career HR on his birthday

The Blue Jays' recent run of success continued with the victory over the Braves. Toronto has won eight of its past 12 games and nine of 15 following a 4-15 stretch. The bad news for the Blue Jays is that they entered play 16 games back of the Yankees in the AL East and 12 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Video: ATL@TOR: Solarte knocks an RBI single to right field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The birthday boy: Morales connected on the fourth birthday home run of his career with a two-run shot in the first inning. According to Statcast™, Morales' sixth big fly of the year was projected to travel 381 feet, and it left his bat at 99.9 mph. The blast gave Toronto an early 2-0 lead. Morales now has seven multihit games this month, which matches his total from April and May combined.

Video: Check out Kendry Morales' 4 birthday homers

"I always try and be aggressive, birthday or not. Thankfully everything went well today," Morales said through an interpreter after the game.

Closing it down: Blue Jays closer Ryan Tepera relieved Happ in the top of the ninth with one out and two runners on base. Tepera surrendered a pair of RBI singles, but with the potential tying run on second base, he was then able to get Johan Camargo to hit a weak fly ball to center. The 30-year-old has allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings this month.

Video: ATL@TOR: Tepera retires Camargo to secure 5th save

"I wanted to see [Happ] finish it, honestly," Tepera said. "But I came in, and in that situation, I want to get them out right then and there, not allow any more runs to score. I think he deserves a little bit better of a [pitching] line. But you know what? We got the win today, and that's all that matters. I'm sure he's happy about it, and he did a great job."

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays surrendered a home run to a No. 9 hitter for the second consecutive game. On Tuesday night, it was a grand slam by Camargo, and the following day it, was a solo shot by Bourjos. Toronto entered play on Wednesday allowing No. 9 hitters to post a .471 slugging percentage, which ranks as the highest in the Major Leagues for any club since at least 1908. The closest to that mark is Detroit, which allowed a .455 slugging percentage to No. 9 hitters in 2015.

Video: MLB Tonight puts J.A. Happ under the microscope

HE SAID IT
"I certainly enjoy pitching here, and to have an outing and a response from the crowd like I did today, that was nice. I signed to play here and try to help this team get to the playoffs. That's still my goal, that's what I want to do. Until somebody tells me different, I'm going to have fun doing that." -- Happ, on leaving the field to a standing ovation amid trade rumors

Video: ATL@TOR: Happ on start, importance of tossing strikes

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will travel to the West Coast for the start of a four-game series against the Angels on Thursday night. Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.35 ERA) will start the opener, with first pitch scheduled for 10:07 p.m. ET. Sanchez has tossed three consecutive quality starts, and he is coming off an outing that saw him match a season high with eight strikeouts. The Halos will counter with left-hander Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81 ERA).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.A. Happ, Kendrys Morales, Ryan Tepera

Morales hits fourth birthday homer

If you ever question the efficacy of birthday wishes, just look to Blue Jays slugger Kendrys Morales. After turning 35 and, presumably, blowing out the candles on his birthday cake and/or birthday protein shake, Morales used his barehanded swing to go deep against Braves starter Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday afternoon. Not a bad birthday present to oneself.

Blue Jays sign second-rounder Conine

Toronto agrees to terms with all picks from first 10 rounds; Stroman set to return Saturday
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have officially signed all the players they selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft, after second-rounder Griffin Conine agreed to terms on Wednesday morning.

Toronto did not announce the financial terms, but according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis, Griffin will receive $1.35 million, which is the full slot value for the No. 52 overall pick. Griffin is a product of Duke University and the son of longtime Major Leaguer Jeff Conine.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have officially signed all the players they selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft, after second-rounder Griffin Conine agreed to terms on Wednesday morning.

Toronto did not announce the financial terms, but according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis, Griffin will receive $1.35 million, which is the full slot value for the No. 52 overall pick. Griffin is a product of Duke University and the son of longtime Major Leaguer Jeff Conine.

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All Blue Jays 2018 Draft picks

Griffin was considered a possible first-round Draft pick by a lot of experts entering this season, but his stock dropped after a slow start to his college season. He bounced back late in the year, and he was considered one of the best pure power hitters in this year's class.

The 20-year-old hit .281 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs in 224 at-bats for Duke in his junior season. Contact remains a concern after striking out 74 times, compared to 45 the previous year, but when he connects, the ball often travels a long way. Conine also possesses an above-average arm in right field. He will begin his Blue Jays tenure in the Gulf Coast League.

Toronto also officially agreed to terms with 18th-rounder Fitz Stadler (right-hander, Arizona State) and 33rd-rounder Matt Harris (right-hander Florida Atlantic) on Wednesday morning. The Blue Jays have now signed 29 of the 40 players they selected in the MLB Draft, including their top 15 picks.

Video: WSH@TOR: Donaldson fields grounders during recovery

Donaldson departs

Third baseman Josh Donaldson temporarily left the team on Wednesday afternoon to attend a funeral. Upon his return, Donaldson will continue to rehab from a sore left calf, but there is still no timetable for when he might be back in the Blue Jays' lineup. Donaldson has been out since May 28 because of the injury, and he will need to complete a brief rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo before rejoining the team.

Stroman cleared for Saturday

As expected, right-hander Marcus Stroman will be activated from the 10-day disabled list in time to start on Saturday against the Angels. Toronto previously announced that Stroman would be returning this weekend, but it had yet to confirm which day Stroman would start until Wednesday morning.

Stroman has been out since May 8 with a right shoulder injury and for what the Blue Jays described as a period of physical and mental rest. The 27-year-old recently completed a brief rehab assignment, which included a pair of simulated games and one start for Class A Advanced Dunedin.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Pardinho impresses in pro debut

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

The least-known prospect acquired by the Marlins in the January blockbuster trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, Jordan Yamamoto is doing his best to shed that distinction this season in the Florida State League.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

The least-known prospect acquired by the Marlins in the January blockbuster trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, Jordan Yamamoto is doing his best to shed that distinction this season in the Florida State League.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Yamamoto, Miami's No. 20 prospect, set a career high with 13 strikeouts and allowed just two hits, both singles, over seven scoreless innings as Class A Advanced Jupiter blanked Florida, 2-0. He did not issue a walk in the outing, ultimately facing two over the minimum and throwing 64 of 89 pitches for strikes.

Dealt to Miami during the offseason, along with outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison and second baseman Isan Diaz, Yamamoto began the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement but has been on a roll since making his Marlins organizational debut on May 27. The 22-year-old right-hander is 3-0 in five starts, with a 1.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 33-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 2/3 innings.

Selected by Milwaukee in the 12th round of the 2014 Draft out of the Hawaii prep ranks, Yamamoto broke out in earnest last year, when he logged 111 innings for Class A Advanced Carolina -- his second straight campaign with at least 100 innings pitched after working a career-high 134 1/3 frames in 2016 -- struck out 113 and sported a 2.51 ERA that topped Carolina League pitchers reaching 100 innings.

Yamamoto was especially good down the stretch, too, as he allowed just one earned run over his final five starts and 33 innings -- a trend that has followed the young right-hander into 2018.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Wednesday

No. 12 overall prospect Mitch Keller (Pirates' No. 1) turned in his fourth straight quality start as he pitched Double-A Altoona past Richmond in Game 1 of a doubleheader to record his eighth win in 13 starts. The 22-year-old righty gave up one unearned run on four hits and one walk while striking out four and racking up 10 ground-ball outs. He's now completed at least six innings in seven straight starts, during which he's 5-0. Overall, Keller ranks among the Eastern League leaders with his eight wins (tied, first), a 3.00 ERA (seventh) and 78 1/3 innings pitched (fourth).

• No. 43 overall prospect Ian Anderson (Braves' No. 5) was outdueled by Yamamoto, but still impressed plenty by tossing six innings of two-run ball with a season-best eight strikeouts in a quality start for Class A Advanced Florida. Anderson permitted seven hits (six singles) and one walk and flooded the strike zone with 63 of his 92 offerings. The 20-year-old righty sports a 3.51 ERA through 13 starts on the season, with 70 strikeouts and just two home runs allowed in 59 innings.

• No. 57 overall prospect Shane Baz (Pirates' No. 3) worked a career-high five scoreless innings to earn the win in his season debut for Rookie-level Bristol. The 2017 first-rounder (No. 12 overall) gave up four hits while compiling one strikeout and three walks in the outing. Baz, a 19-year-old righty, recorded eight ground-ball outs and threw 45 of his 80 pitches for strikes. Outfielder Conner Uselton (No. 16), selected with the No. 72 pick in the '17 Draft, went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.

• No. 92 overall prospect Sean Murphy (A's No. 6) went 3-for-3 and reached base in all five of his plate appearances in Double-A Midland's loss to Frisco. Two of those hits were doubles, giving Murphy a Texas League-leading 24 two-baggers on the season, and he also reached twice via walks and scored two runs. The 23-year-old is proving this season that he's one of the Minor's top catching prospects, as the performance gives Murphy a .315/.367/.539 batting line with 33 extra-base hits through 56 games.

Blue Jays No. 7 prospect Eric Pardinho took the loss but impressed in his professional debut, tossing four innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and seven ground-ball outs for Rookie-level Bluefield. The 17-year-old right-hander threw 39 of his 65 pitches for strikes in the outing, allowing two hits and two walks. Signed for $1.4 million out of Brazil at the outset of the 2017-18 international period, Pardinho boasts a three-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball-curveball pairing and a promising changeup. That mature arsenal, along with his advanced feel for using it, is why Toronto felt comfortable jumping him straight to the Appalachian League for his Minor League debut.

Dodgers No. 24 prospect Drew Jackson hit a pair of two-run homers as he powered Double-A Tulsa past Springfield, 7-1, with his first career multi-homer game. The 24-year-old middle infielder has gone deep seven times in 54 games this year after homering just once in 29 Double-A contests in 2017.Will Smith (No. 8) also homered in the victory, his eighth this season. Both players finished 2-for-4 and scored two runs.

Watch: Jackson homers twice

Padres No. 11 prospect Jacob Nix was a tough-luck loser despite tossing seven innings of one-run ball with a season-best eight strikeouts for Double-A San Antonio in a 1-0 loss against Corpus Christi. The 22-year-old right-hander -- making his fifth start of 2018 after beginning the season on the disabled list -- allowed four hits, did not issue a walk and induced eight ground-ball outs. He's pitched to a 1.27 ERA and 0.71 WHIP, with 20 strikeouts, six walks and a .147 BAA, in 28 1/3 innings.

Pirates No. 7 prospect Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer (No. 8) combined for five hits and four RBIs in Triple-A Indianapolis' 5-3 win over Norfolk. Newman paced the offense out of the leadoff spot by going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. It was his second three-hit performance during his seven-game hitting streak. Kramer, meanwhile, finished the game 2-for-4 after hitting his 16th double and a two-run homer, his 11th of the season and third in the last six games.

Pirates No. 11 prospect Luis Escobar posted six scoreless innings of two-hit ball in Class A Advanced Bradenton's 9-1 win over Clearwater. The 22-year-old righty issued two walks and struck out six while finding the strike zone with 51 of his 77 pitches. The outing was a step back in the right direction for Escobar after he entered the day having allowed nine earned runs and eight walks in eight innings between his previous two starts.

Escobar's sixth strikeout

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.