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Astros spoil Estrada’s final home start

The question being of the year, or career?

MLB: Houston Astros at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 5 Blue Jays 3

In potentially his last home start at the Rogers Centre, it was not Marco Estrada’s night. It started literally right off the bat as George Springer jumped on the first pitch and lined it to the left-centre gap. He scored with two out on a single by the Houston Gurriel, and the Astros stayed out in front the rest of the night.

The second inning started even worse, as Brian McCann and Josh Reddick led off with a pair of solo home runs to push the score to 3-0. Estrada escaped the inning without further damage against the bottom of the order, but the top of the lineup picked right up again in the third. Jose Altuve singled leading off, and Alex Bregman doubled him home.

That was all the damage against Estrada’s line, as he worked around another walk and again rolled through the bottom of the order in the 4th. He should have got through a scoreless 5th as well, but a leadoff error combined with a one out single resulted in him departing after 4.2 innings, with 4 runs on 7 hits with a walk and strikeout a piece.

If this is it for Estrada on home turf (he better not end up in Tampa...), it’s an unfortunate end for a player who was a critical part of the of the ALCS teams. Marco was not the best tonight, but he should get one more start on the weekend against Tampa and hopefully gives us one more chance to end (this year at least) on a crescendo.

The Jays did little in the early going other than erase baserunners on double plays in the early going. They got on the board in the 4th as Kevin Pillar - an obvious choice to hit 5th in a MLB lineup, a point be proved beyond reproachful questioning - launched a two run home run to drive in Justin Smoak (who had doubled) and cut the deficit in half.

But it was the 5th inning that was the big turning point. The Jays loaded the bases to start the inning on a pair of singles and a walk, and Yangervis Solarte moved everyone around 90 feet with a single of his own. Now down just a single run at 4-3, the Jays were poised to do some real damage.

But home plate umpire Kerwin Danley had a moving strike zone all night, and punched out Justin Smoak on what he thought was ball four to tie the game. Randal Grichuk hit a bouncer on which the lead runner was cut down at home, and Pillar struck out swinging to end the inning.

It was as close as the Jays were to get. A couple runners went for naught in the 6th, a double play in the 7th, a clean 8th, and then Roberto Osuna locked down the save in the 9th after entering to boos and working around Richard Urena’s third single of the night.

On the bright side, the bullpen mostly held the Astros and gave the Jays a chance to mount a comeback:

  • Tim Mayza followed Estrada, getting the a ground out to end the 5th. He struck out a pair in the 6th, sandwiched around a single blasted off the very top of the left field wall at 112 MPH
  • Ryan Tepera got the last out of the 6th
  • Jake Petricka and Tyler Clippard had perfect 7th and 8th innings respectively
  • Joe Biagini allowed an insurance run in the 9th as old friend Jake Marisnick doubled and scored on a two out Altuve single

Jays of the Day: Richard Urena (+0.231 WPA), Solarte (+0.128)

Suckage: It’s a long line...Estrada (-0.201), Smoak (-0.232, assist to Kerwin Danley), Teoscar (-0.117), Grichuk (-0.107), Morales (-0.092)

Amazingly, Pillar ends up closer to suckage than JoTD with a -0.082 WPA on a night when he came close to his first (legitimate) hat trick of the season.

Tomorrow, rookie Josh James takes on Sam Gaviglio, which will probable be the best chance for the Jays to take a game in this series.