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Estrada's strong start not enough to slow Yanks

Blue Jays' bullpen stumbles as Oh, Loup allow key home runs
Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- Marco Estrada turned in his best outing of the season on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, but it still wasn't enough as the slumping Blue Jays fell, 7-2, to the Yankees.

Estrada looked like he'd rediscovered his peak form from 2015 and '16, working up and down in the zone with his fastball and changeup while also mixing in an effective curveball more often than usual. He pitched six-plus innings and was charged with just one earned run after scattering six hits and striking out six.

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TORONTO -- Marco Estrada turned in his best outing of the season on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, but it still wasn't enough as the slumping Blue Jays fell, 7-2, to the Yankees.

Estrada looked like he'd rediscovered his peak form from 2015 and '16, working up and down in the zone with his fastball and changeup while also mixing in an effective curveball more often than usual. He pitched six-plus innings and was charged with just one earned run after scattering six hits and striking out six.

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"[Russell Martin] called a completely different game today," Estrada said. "We threw a lot of cutters, a lot of curveballs, a lot of changeups. We just threw a little bit of everything, which I think helped a lot. I also felt like my changeup was better than it has been. For some reason, it hasn't been quite there yet like I'd like it to be. Today, I saw some of the swings and misses that I was hoping for."

The Blue Jays have been looking for this type of start from Estrada, who entered Tuesday with a 5.68 ERA after not being able to get out of the fourth inning in his last start against the Red Sox.

"Marco was great, no doubt about it. It's like the old guy," said manager John Gibbons. "He pitched his butt off, it's that simple."

Video: NYY@TOR: Gibbons on Estrada's start and bullpen woes

After allowing a single to Gary Sanchez to open the top of the seventh, Gibbons lifted Estrada for reliever Seunghwan Oh. That's when it started to go downhill for Toronto, which led, 1-0, on Teoscar Hernandez's homer in the sixth. Oh hit the next batter he faced, then walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases.

Miguel Andujar delivered the big blow with his first career grand slam, a projected 426-foot shot, per Statcast™, to left field that was gone the moment it left the bat. That closed the book on Estrada, tagging him with his lone earned run, and gave the Yankees all the offence they needed.

Video: NYY@TOR: Andujar mashes a go-ahead grand slam in 7th

"Oh's a great guy and I feel bad for him that it happened in that inning," Estrada said. "It's unfortunate. He's a great guy and he's a very good pitcher, but those things happen. You just have to let it go. He'll be back tomorrow and hopefully pitch a great game."

After Kevin Pillar brought the Blue Jays within two runs by belting a homer off Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the seventh inning, Toronto's bullpen allowed the Yankees to pile on further in the eighth when Hicks took Aaron Loup deep for a three-run home run.

Video: NYY@TOR: Pillar smacks solo home run to left field

The Blue Jays have now lost six of their last seven games and 16 of their last 21 as they fell eight games below .500.

"We still like our team," Gibbons said. "We're not playing particularly well, obviously."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Hernandez's homer in the sixth looked like it might scrape the Rogers Centre roof. The shot to left field had at an extremely high launch angle of 45 degrees and just narrowly cleared the wall when it finally came down. The home run was Hernandez's ninth of the season.

Video: NYY@TOR: Hernandez cranks solo home run to deep left

HE SAID IT
"CC's been great all year and he showed it again. He's a tough guy to hit and he does well against us. That's really it -- we faced a good pitcher." -- Estrada

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Brett Gardner was called safe on a steal of second base in the top of the sixth, giving the Yankees a runner in scoring position with no outs. The Blue Jays challenged and asked for the umpires to take a second look, though, and the call was quickly overturned. Martin's throw tailed off to the right side of second base, but Devon Travis caught the ball with his glove already on Gardner's thigh for the out.

Video: NYY@TOR: Martin catches Gardner stealing after review

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays and Yankees wrap up their two-game series on Wednesday night at 7:07 p.m. ET. Sam Gaviglio (2-1, 3.32 ERA) takes the mound for Toronto after pitching six innings in each of his last two starts, which has been enough to keep him in the rotation with Marcus Stroman on the disabled list. New York will counter with Sonny Gray (4-4), who owns a 5.50 ERA but is coming off a six-inning, one-run performance against the Orioles.

Keegan Matheson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Marco Estrada, Teoscar Hernandez, Seunghwan Oh, Kevin Pillar