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Estrada takes step backward in loss to Rays

Pannone makes MLB debut; Blue Jays record first hit of game in sixth
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Marco Estrada still has some work left to do before the Blue Jays can seriously consider dealing him to a potential contender before the end of the month.

Estrada followed up one of his best starts of the season with a frustrating outing against the Rays. The veteran right-hander was charged with five runs on five hits and a pair of walks over 5 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Rays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

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TORONTO -- Marco Estrada still has some work left to do before the Blue Jays can seriously consider dealing him to a potential contender before the end of the month.

Estrada followed up one of his best starts of the season with a frustrating outing against the Rays. The veteran right-hander was charged with five runs on five hits and a pair of walks over 5 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Rays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

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Toronto's lineup wasn't much help either as Rays lefty Blake Snell tossed five perfect innings before he was pulled due to an innings limit. Luke Maile eventually broke up the perfect game with an infield single in the bottom of the sixth, but the Blue Jays were still shut out for the seventh time this season.

Estrada was expected to be shopped before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but a glute injury he sustained at the beginning of the month changed all of that. The 35-year-old eventually returned on July 30, and there were signs of progress when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his last start against the Mariners on Saturday.

That positive progress was at least put on hold in the series opener vs. Tampa Bay. Estrada allowed a two-run homer to catcher Michael Perez in the top of the third, two more runs in the fifth thanks in large part to a triple by Mallex Smith, then the rough night was capped with a homer by Ji-Man Choi in the sixth. The five earned runs matched a season high for Estrada and were his most since April 26 against the Red Sox.

Video: TB@TOR: Estrada whiffs Smith to start the game

"He was really good early, and then it looked like they started to sit on his soft stuff a little bit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The big home run on a curveball that just sat there. His stuff was good early on, but they worked him hard, shot some balls the other way, a good job of hitting. But that was the Snell show there right out of the gates."

The Blue Jays are starting to run out of time to find some value for Estrada, a pending free agent. To be eligible for the postseason roster, players need to be on a team's 40-man roster, the 60-day DL or the bereavement/family medical emergency list by Aug. 31. That likely will give the Blue Jays approximately three more starts to showcase Estrada before the Aug. 31 deadline while the club is also expected to shop Josh Donaldson, Curtis Granderson, Tyler Clippard and others.

"I don't think I had good fastball command," said Estrada, who added that he felt fine physically. "I need to have better fastball command, plain and simple. I didn't locate the fastball at all. I threw some good changeups today. I had some swing and misses on it, so that was a positive from this game."

Snell retired all 15 batters he faced before Rays manager Kevin Cash lifted him from the game. Snell returned on Saturday from the 10-day disabled list (left shoulder fatigue), and even though he threw 59 pitches in his last start, Cash cut this outing short after 47 pitches. Snell completely dominated the Blue Jays' lineup by generating a lot of weak contact and striking out six. Rays right-hander Jake Faria tossed three scoreless innings in relief.

"He's one of the best young arms in the game," Gibbons said of Snell. "He's just getting better and better. He has a great fastball and as good of a curveball as you're going to see in the game. … He was pretty impressive tonight."

THE DEBUT
Left-hander Thomas Pannone made his Major League debut out of the Blue Jays' bullpen. Toronto's No. 28 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, struck out Kevin Kiermaier to begin his big league career and was charged with two runs on three hits while striking out three over 1 2/3 innings.

Video: TB@TOR: Pannone K's Kiermaier for 1st MLB strikeout

"I was definitely a little nervous," Pannone said of his debut. "I just stayed in the moment the best way I could and just try to get loose, warm up. I didn't want to look at the big picture. I just wanted to stay focused on what I've been doing on the day-to-day and bring it out on the mound."

Pannone is being considered as a possible candidate to enter the starting rotation on Monday. Toronto needs another starter after right-hander Mike Hauschild was optioned to the Minor Leagues earlier this week. Pannone tossed 30 pitches, and with two full days' rest, he would be fine to start in Kansas City on Monday, but No. 10 Blue Jays prospect Sean Reid-Foley is also expected to receive some consideration.

SOUND SMART
Justin Smoak finished the game 0-for-4 as his 13-game hitting streak came to an end. The stretch came up one game shy of a career high and was the longest by a Blue Jays hitter this season.

HE SAID IT
"I just gave it to her so I wouldn't lose it. Better off in her hands than mine." -- Pannone, when asked if he presented his first strikeout ball to his mother as a gift

UP NEXT
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-4, 5.08 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday afternoon when the Blue Jays host the Rays with first pitch scheduled for 4:07 p.m. ET. He'll counter Rays opener Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.56). Toronto will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1993 Blue Jays team that won the World Series against Philadelphia in six games. Former stars such as Joe Carter, John Olerud, Pat Hentgen, Pat Borders and many others will be in attendance and taking part in the on-field ceremonies before the game.

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