BALTIMORE -- Marco Estrada has surrendered the second-most extra-base hits in the Major Leagues this season, but on a night when he allowed just one, it still wasn't enough to lead the Blue Jays to a victory.Estrada served up a third-inning solo homer to DJ Stewart, and that was the
BALTIMORE -- Marco Estrada has surrendered the second-most extra-base hits in the Major Leagues this season, but on a night when he allowed just one, it still wasn't enough to lead the Blue Jays to a victory.
Estrada served up a third-inning solo homer to DJ Stewart, and that was the difference-maker as the Blue Jays were sent to a 2-1 loss against the Orioles. It cost Toronto a series sweep and also stopped it from matching its highest win total against one team in an individual season at 15.
The 35-year-old Estrada was coming off one of his worst starts of the season as he allowed eight runs over 2 2/3 innings vs. New York on Friday. It was a much different story against the Orioles as Estrada was borderline flawless with the exception of the one poorly located pitch to Stewart, which ricocheted off the foul pole in right field for the first home run of his career.
"It was a good outing," Estrada said. "I wasn't feeling great, [but] I made a lot of good pitches. … One got away from me, and the kid hit it out. So congrats to him.
"Other than that, I threw a lot of good pitches and there weren't too many hard-hit balls so you have to take that as a positive. The other team just pitched better."
Estrada is still clearly hampered by a back issue that has been lingering for most of the second half, and while it was bothering him again in the series finale, it wasn't exactly noticeable. He scattered four hits and a walk while striking out five and throwing 66 of his 98 pitches for strikes. Along the way, Estrada picked up his 11th quality start of the season, which broke a tie with rookie Ryan Borucki and gave him sole possession of the team lead.
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Baltimore right-hander Dylan Bundy is the only pitcher in the Major Leagues who has allowed more extra-base hits than Estrada this season. Bundy has allowed 79, while Estrada has now served up 76. The six innings of one-run ball dropped Estrada's ERA to 5.57, which is still the highest of his career during any season in which he tossed more than 12 innings.
"It's important just to finish," Estrada said when asked about trying to end the year strong. "I've obviously been dealing with some stuff, and it has been tough. I tried to tone it down tonight and just tried to locate, stop trying so hard, and it actually worked out a little better. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that in the next one."
Despite the impressive outing, Estrada doesn't have much to show for it thanks to a lack of run support. The Blue Jays couldn't manage much of anything off the Orioles, who went with a bullpen day. Starter Jimmy Yacabonis scattered two hits across four scoreless, then Baltimore used three relievers to get through the remaining five innings without dropping its lead.
One of the only bright spots on offence for the Blue Jays was shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who picked up two hits for the second consecutive game. Outfielder Billy McKinney also chipped in his fifth home run of the season with a solo shot to centre field in the top of the eighth inning. McKinney's home run was projected to travel 409 feet and came one day after he snapped an 0-for-21 skid at the plate.
"[McKinney] had been in a little bit of a rut, and he had a couple of hits tonight, so that was big for him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto finished 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. The Blue Jays finish the year with a 14-5 record against division-rival Baltimore. The Blue Jays' record for most wins vs. any one team in a single season is 15, which was set against the Orioles in 2002 and 2010.
The turning point in Wednesday's game came in the top of the fourth inning, when the Blue Jays loaded the bases with nobody out and came away empty handed. Kendrys Morales hit a shallow fly ball to right field, and McKinney attempted to score from third, but was thrown out by Adam Jones. Kevin Pillar came up next and was hit by a pitch, which once again loaded the bases. But Aledmys Diaz flew out to left field in the ensuing at-bat, ending the Blue Jays' scoring threat.
"Not a lot of chances tonight, but we just couldn't do that when we had our chance," Gibbons said. "That's usually the difference between good years and bad years. Teams that do all right come through there, they plate at least one there. Teams that struggle don't."
HE SAID IT
"I think everybody is. It's September." -- Estrada, when asked if he was still a little beat up in reference to his back issues
The Blue Jays will return home to open a four-game series against the Rays on Thursday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio will get the start, while the Rays are set to go with a bullpen day that will feature Ryne Stanek as the "opener." Gaviglio hasn't pitched since last Thursday, when he allowed two runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings as the Blue Jays fell to Boston.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.