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Estrada looks to clear head over break

Blue Jays righty: 'I have to stop putting so much pressure on myself'
MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- The All-Star break could not be coming at a better time for Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who admits he needs to get away and clear his head.

Estrada has been mired in arguably the worst slump of his career. The latest disappointment came during Wednesday's 7-6 victory over the Yankees, when he allowed six runs on five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings.

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NEW YORK -- The All-Star break could not be coming at a better time for Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who admits he needs to get away and clear his head.

Estrada has been mired in arguably the worst slump of his career. The latest disappointment came during Wednesday's 7-6 victory over the Yankees, when he allowed six runs on five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings.

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Since the start of June, there hasn't been much working in Estrada's favor. He is 0-4 with a 9.46 ERA over seven starts, and he tossed five innings in just two of those outings.

"I'm glad the break is coming up," said Estrada, who was staked to an early 5-0 lead Wednesday but could not hold it. "I just have to clear my head. I have to stop thinking about all of this. I have to stop putting so much pressure on myself because I know this team needs me. I need them."

Estrada is clearly frustrated with himself, and he is searching for answers with his mechanics and mental approach after the recent string of poor outings. In the past, he has been as good as anyone at turning the page after a rough start, but that hasn't been the case lately.

The struggles from Estrada have come at the same time the Blue Jays are frequently mentioned as possible sellers in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Unless Toronto makes a big run in the standings over the next couple of weeks, it may have no choice but to sell off some of its assets, and that will start with players who are free agents at the end of the year.

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Estrada falls into that category, alongside Francisco Liriano, Joe Smith and possibly Jose Bautista. Toronto's clubhouse is focused on getting back into the race more than the rumors, but everyone is aware of the situation. The Blue Jays need to start playing better in a hurry if they are going to avoid the seller status, and perhaps the standings have gotten into Estrada's head.

"I don't know how to explain it, to be honest with you," Estrada said. "I think because I want to win so bad, I'm letting it get to me. We're not at .500, I want to get there, and maybe I'm pressing because I want this team to do so well.

"Maybe I'm just putting extra pressure on myself, and I have to let that go because I'm not going to be any good if I keep thinking that way. I have to clear my head, go out there and have fun, because that's normally what I do out there. Whether things are going good or bad, I'm always having fun, and that's what I need to get back to."

It hasn't been much fun for Estrada lately, but he can take solace in the fact that Toronto has won back-to-back games for the first time since June 18-19. He turned 34 on Wednesday, and while the birthday didn't go as hoped, it could have been worse.

"It's a great birthday present," Estrada said. "Obviously I didn't do what I wanted to do out there, but we won. That's what's important."

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, Marco Estrada