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Estrada's back acts up as Blue Jays drop finale

Right-hander says problem is minor after allowing four runs in defeat
April 11, 2018

BALTIMORE -- Marco Estrada cruised through three hitless innings until the wheels fell off in the fourth and fifth. It turns out a recurrence of his lingering back issues was one of the main reasons why.Estrada admitted after a 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night at Camden Yards

BALTIMORE -- Marco Estrada cruised through three hitless innings until the wheels fell off in the fourth and fifth. It turns out a recurrence of his lingering back issues was one of the main reasons why.
Estrada admitted after a 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night at Camden Yards that he experienced spasms in his lower back throughout the game. That provides at least a partial explanation behind his first rough outing of the season, as he allowed four runs on six hits and three walks over four-plus innings.
The veteran right-hander has dealt with back issues throughout his career. Estrada was free of injury in 2017, but it was a problem for most of '16 and resulted in a pair of stints on the disabled list. That's not something he expects to happen this time around.
"I had a little something pop up, but it wasn't a big deal," Estrada said. "I don't know what happened. My lower back kind of got me a little bit today. I don't know if it's the cold or what, but it spasmed up a little bit and I was struggling to follow through on certain pitches.
"Obviously, got hit around. When I'm missing like that, I'm going to get hit. But it's nothing major, something small. Get a little treatment on it and I'll be fine for the next one."
Estrada said the back spasms started early during Wednesday night's game and worsened as the game progressed. That was evident in his performance on the mound, as Estrada carried a no-hitter into the fourth but surrendered three runs in the frame. He was eventually removed with no outs and the bases loaded in the fifth.
Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop provided most of the damage for Baltimore by combining for four hits, including a pair of doubles, while Schoop had two RBIs. Chris Davis also got in on the action with a two-hit night, and the mini outburst by the Orioles' bats stopped the Blue Jays from picking up their first series sweep over Baltimore since 2015.
"I was fine today going in," Estrada said. "I don't really know what happened. It's just one of those things, but it wasn't a big deal. It was more me missing with my pitches, leaving a few changeups up and I got hit. It's unfortunate, but I'll be ready to go for the next one."
Aledmys Diaz hit his third home run of the season, while Kevin Pillar and Yangervis Solarte added RBIs for the Blue Jays.

Day off for Donaldson: The Blue Jays brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth against Orioles closer Brad Brach. With No. 9 hitter Mpho' Ngoepe due up, manager John Gibbons turned to his bench, but not for the player that most people were expecting. Gibbons went with Devon Travis as the pinch-hitter instead of Josh Donaldson, who was held out of the starting lineup for rest. That created some speculation that Donaldson's "dead arm" is still an issue, but Gibbons played coy postgame, simply stating, "If I wanted to use him, I would have used him."
Donaldson later provided more clarity to a group of reporters by saying his injury has not gotten any worse and the Blue Jays simply wanted to combine today's rest with an off-day on Thursday to maximize his recuperation time. Travis flied out and Curtis Granderson then grounded out to end the game.
"I chose not to," Gibbons said of using Donaldson. "Manager's prerogative."
Trouble in the fourth: Estrada's no-hitter came to a screeching halt in the fourth inning when the heart of the Orioles' lineup stepped to the plate for a second time. Machado and Schoop got things started with back-to-back doubles, and Davis later followed with an RBI single. The three-run inning was capped with a sacrifice fly from Timothy Beckham, as Baltimore enjoyed its first multi-run frame since Sunday against the Yankees.
"His stuff was good," Gibbons said of Estrada. "He was on a nice little roll early. He might have missed a couple of spots and they got some hits. They dropped that three-spot and then he got into trouble in his last inning … but overall, the results weren't good, but I thought his stuff was better than that."

The Blue Jays have at least one home run in 12 of their first 13 games this season.

The Orioles challenged the call of a foul ball on Machado's slicing fly ball down the right field line in the fifth inning, contending that Randal Grichuk made contact with the ball in fair territory as he attempted a diving catch. After a 4-minute, 10-second review, the call was overturned and Machado was given a single, loading the bases with no one out.

Schoop singled in a run, which brought Estrada's outing to an end. Danny Barnes came in and struck out Jones and Alvarez, before Davis flied out to center field and ended the inning.

The Blue Jays will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before opening a three-game series in Cleveland on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Marcus Stroman will be on the mound for Toronto in the series opener. He hasn't found a groove this season with nine earned runs allowed over 9 2/3 innings.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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