Marco Estrada, as he so often has over the past 14 months, came up huge when the Jays were in dire need of a good starting effort tonight. With the bullpen depleted after the weekend series against Boston, Estrada not only kept the Yankees off the scoreboard, but did it for 8 innings to limit the need for relievers (and a darn good thing at that, but more on that ugliness later until more of Estrada's virtues have been extoled).
In all, Estrada needed 108 pitches for those 8 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks with 6 strikeouts. As usual with Estrada, that's only half the story as he induced a lot of weak and routine contact and he was in complete control not allowing multiple baserunners until the 8th when he faltered a little bit.
In the 4th and 5th he erased leadoff baserunners with double plays (the former a nice 3-6-3 started by Justin Smoak), as he faced the minimum from the 4th though 7th innings. In the 8th, Starlin Castro walked, but Estrada froze Chase Headley with a cutter and got Didi Gregorius swinging before Aaron Hicks hit a hard double for the only real threat of the night against him. But Estrada, almost certainly facing his last batter either way, got Jacoby Ellsbury to to popout to shortstop.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays led wire-to-wire as Edwin Encarnacion doubled home Josh Donaldson in the 1st inning to put the Jays up 1-0. They put some distance in the 3rd when Ryan Goins smashed a double leading off, and Joe Bautista walked. Consecutive ground outs first moved the runners up a base and then brought Goins home. Michael Saunders cashed Bautista with a laser the other way into the left-centre gap.
They got their final run in the 5th when, having already doubled, Goins hit an opposite field solo shot to make it 4-0 and put the game into cruise control. Goins also executed a beautiful sac bunt in the 7th after a Kevin Pillar leadoff double, although in vain (surprise!) as Bautista could not bring Pillar home from 3rd with 1 out. The 2/2 day with two extra base hits for Goins doubled his season wRC+ from 15 to 30.
With Estrada done, and Roberto Osuna, Gavin Floys and Joe Biagini unavailable, John Gibbons turned to Aaron Loup to lock down the win in the 9th, which was the right call with the first four batters due up being L/S/L/S. Loup retired Rob Refsnyder pinch hitting, but hit Carlos Beltran and after getting ahead of Brian McCann couldn't finish him off and instead had his night finished off as McCann hit a bomb to straight away centre. Exeunt Loup.
Enter Storen, working for the third straight day which on top of his struggles thus far triggered a foreboding sense of déjà vu all over again all over again all over again (okay, you get the idea). Sure enough, almost right away Mark Teixeria doubled to bring the tying run to the plate. Fortunately, Storen got a fly out and strike out to end the game.
After the game the Sportsnet post-game said that Estrada became the first Blue Jays since Dave Stieb to do something - I think win consecutive starts against the Yankees - but regardless, I figure being in Stieb's company is never a bad thing.
We could use more game graphs that look like this (or the first 8 innings, anyway):
I believe the technical term of art is "up and to the right". That kind of trend is absolutely our friend.
Jays of the Day: Estrada (+0.331 WPA), Encarnacion (+0.117), Goins (+0.102)
Suckage: None, though I'm highly tempted to give one to Loup. Smoak had the low number at -0.049 as the only starter not to reach base.
Tomorrow will be a southpaw duel with C.C. Sabathia taking on J.A. Happ at 7:05 eastern as the Jays look to clinch a third straight 2016 series against the Yankees.