The Toronto Blue Jays, currently in last place in the AL East, faced off against the first place team, the Baltimore Orioles for their third and final game of the series. The first two games between these teams saw great pitching, several home runs and close scores; unfortunately the Jays were unable to win either game and went looking for a win Sunday afternoon to avoid the sweep.
Leftie Wade Miley was given the start for the Orioles and encountered trouble in the first inning. He quickly secured two outs before a routine ground ball was bobbled by Jonathan Schoop allowing Jays DH Kendrys Morales to take first. First baseman, Justin Smoak, who’s hitting .400 from the right side, followed with a base hit to right field. Red hot Devon Travis stepped up to the plate and on a breaking ball first pitch, hit a fast and loud home run off Miley to the right field bleachers, giving the Jays a 3-0 lead.
Estrada was dominating and commanding throughout the game and didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the third. He gave up a lead off double by left fielder Trey Mancini, but was then able to retire the next three batters and leave the inning unscratched.
The fourth inning though wasn’t as fortunate to him. Orioles’ Adam Jones was the first one up and belted his seventh home run of the season to left field, putting the O’s on the board, 3-1.
The next three innings saw Estrada remain as effective, methodical and accurate as he had been throughout the game. He got the third out in the seventh inning by striking out J.J. Hardy, which tied Estrada’s record of striking out twelve batters in one game.
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He came out for the eighth inning and immediately got two outs before Adam Jones hit a ball through Barney and Goins up the middle. Gibbons decided to pull Estrada after Jones’ hit and replace him with reliever Joe Smith, whom came in with a 2.61 ERA in twenty two games. Smiths’ second pitch hit Orioles’ Manny Machado squarely on his left hand; Machado appeared to be okay as he was looked over by their trainer and able to take first and remain in the game. With two out and two on, Smith struck out Chris Davis to end the possibility of an Orioles threat.
Orioles’ reliever Alec Asher, 2.52 ERA in nine games, came out to pitch the top of the eighth and ninth innings after Miley was pulled after giving seven full innings. Asher was able to offensively shut down the Jays and not allow any more additional runs. Jays’ closer, Roberto Osuna, got the call to enter and save the game. A base hit, a tailor made double play, a single up the middle, followed by a pop up to third base, was all it took to finish the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Jays won their 19th game while avoid being swept by the O’s. Estrada finished his day with his third win of the season while throwing 115 pitches and tying his career high in strikeouts with twelve. The losing pitcher was Wade Miley now with a record of 1-2 while Osuna got his sixth save of the season.
The Jays have Monday off but will play a short Interleague two game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Blue Jays Joe Biagini, 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA, is projected to start on Tuesday evening against Brewers starter, Jimmy Nelson, whom has a record of 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 7:40 EST from Milwaukee.