Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Toronto Blue Jays
news

Blue Jays News

Estrada dominant, Opitz hits walk-off vs. Tigers

Marco Estrada fanned 5 and retired the last 14 Tigers he faced in his third spring start. (AP)
March 22, 2017

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dominic Ficociello crushed a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to put Detroit ahead, but fellow Minor Leaguer Shane Optiz did the same for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the frame to lift Toronto to a 5-4 Grapefruit League win on Wednesday at

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dominic Ficociello crushed a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to put Detroit ahead, but fellow Minor Leaguer Shane Optiz did the same for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the frame to lift Toronto to a 5-4 Grapefruit League win on Wednesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The knock capped a big day for the Blue Jays, who got a strong start from Marco Estrada. The right-hander settled down to retire the last 14 batters he faced over his five-inning outing.
Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris, backed by three double plays, blanked Toronto for four innings before giving up a pair of runs in the fifth.
Detroit came out swinging against Estrada. Dixon Machado led off with a long drive to center, but the ball hung up just long enough for Kevin Pillar to make a nice catch with his back to the plate on the warning track. Alex Presley followed with a single, and scored when Nicholas Castellanos doubled and went to third on the throw to the plate.
"I was a little off early on," Estrada said. "I kept falling behind. But the tempo of my windup was night and day. That's kind of what I worked on since my last outing, and it's feeling much better. I kind of locked it in."
After the first run, Estrada was nearly untouchable. He struck out Justin Upton and Efren Navarro to strand Castellanos, and didn't allow another hit.
Estrada threw a lot of changeups, the pitch he has worked on, and said he was pleased with the results.
The Blue Jays had just one runner in scoring position against Norris until the fifth. Pillar led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a throwing error charged to catcher James McCann. Justin Smoak then walked, and Darrell Ceciliani doubled to score Pillar with the tying run. Smoak came home on a one-out grounder from Ryan Goins.
"It was good to get out there and face some old friends," said Norris, who came up through the Blue Jays' system before going to Detroit in the David Price trade in 2015. "Today I felt rather calm. I felt pretty easy out there, instead of going too fast."
Ficocello's fourth home run of the spring came off Joe Biagini. Opitz's blast was his first hit this spring, and came against Angel Nesbitt.
Tigers up next: The Tigers get to sleep in before heading in the opposite direction on Interstate 4 on Thursday to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, where they'll take on the Braves in a 6:05 p.m. ET contest that is broadcast live on MLB.TV. Justin Verlander will make his next-to-last start of the spring.
Blue Jays up next:The Blue Jays are off Thursday. When action resumes Friday against the Red Sox at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, second baseman Devon Travis (knee) is expected to play for the first time this spring and right fielder Jose Bautista, who was competing in the World Baseball Classic, will make his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 5. Left-hander J.A. Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, will start for Toronto. First pitch is at 1:08 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast live on MLB.TV.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.