Marco Estrada continues to do what he does best; be consistent and provide quality starts. Despite not doing much different, he has put together something never before seen in the history of baseball. Last week, he set a major league record for allowing 5 hits or less through 6 IP plus in 11 straight starts. It’s something he called “bittersweet” as he didn’t record the win in the record-breaking game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Blue Jays (41-37) started a three game series Monday night against the Colorado Rockies (37-39) with Marco Estrada given a chance to further the streak and to his hopes cap it with a win. The last time Estrada faced the Rockies was on June 20, 2014, while with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he lasted 5.2 innings, allowing a season high 7 earned runs on 10 hits, despite earning the win.
This past Monday’s game started off with a Blue Jays lead in the top of the 1st inning from a single home run off the bat of second baseman Devon Travis, making it 1-0. Through the first four innings, Estrada allowed only one hit, one walk, and struck out an impressive six batters. Just the second base hit for the Rockies came in the 5th inning; though the score of 1-0 remained unchanged until the top of the sixth. With two outs, Devon Travis doubled to right field, followed by another double from Josh Donaldson to score Travis. Encarnacion batted next, hitting a two run home run and making it 4-0 Blue Jays.
Estrada had just one more inning to pitch before making history yet again, provided he allowed under four hits. The bottom of the sixth proved a battle, as the Rockies refused to give up with a four-run deficit. Estrada walked the leadoff hitter, followed by an infield double from SS Christhian Adames. Still with no outs, Estrada had the difficult task of facing Nolan Arenado, who ranks 2nd overall in MLB for RBI’s (1st in the NL). Estrada performed his magic and struck-out Arenado with an inside pitch, before allowing a base hit to the next batter. Then, on a 2-2 pitch, Estrada allowed a home run off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez, making the score 4-3 with four hits for the Rockies. Mark Reynolds continued the parade with a hit to left field, totalling Estrada’s hit total at five – one more, and the streak would end.
The next batter popped out to Devon Travis for the second out of the inning. Nick Hundley came to the plate, and what followed was truly a nail-biting experience. On a 1-1 pitch, Hundley softly hit the ball towards second base as Reynolds advanced to third. In an absolutely beautiful play, SS Troy Tulowitzki barehanded the ball, throwing to Edwin Encarnacion at first. Encarnacion caught the ball just before Hundley reached the base, ending the inning with the third out. Despite a close call in the sixth, Marco Estrada still made history as a dominant pitcher, as he finished the game with 6.0IP, 5H, 4ER, 2BB and 8K’s.
See Tulowitzki’s barehanded play (Courtesy of MLB)
It would be another bittersweet finish, however, as the game took a complete turn in the bottom of the seventh inning. Drew Storen came into pitch and couldn’t maintain control of the ball as he gave up a single, hit two batters, and then allowed another single, making the score 5-4 in the Rockies favour. A pitching change saw Jesse Chavez take the mound, but he too failed to rise to the occasion as he allowed a run to score after walking a batter with the bases loaded. Ryan Tepera took over after Chavez, giving up three hits before striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn for the final out of the inning. After the dust-settled, the Rockies offence had managed to collect 6 runs through the seventh inning, resulting in a 9-4 lead.
Edwin Encarnacion, who leads MLB with RBI’s, hit a leadoff home run off Rockies closer Jason Motte in the top of the ninth, easing the loss by a final score of 9-5. He now has 21 Home runs and 69 RBI’s this season, proving to be one of the biggest offensive forces in the league. Toronto could not produce any more runs, and lost the series opener thanks to Drew Storen’s seventh inning.
Highlight: Edwin Blasts Two Homers (Courtesy of MLB)
Troy Tulowitzki, while providing another spectacular play, made a return to the city where he played for 10 years. In his first at-bat, the Denver crowd give him a standing ovation as yet another bittersweet moment in the ball game.
The Blue Jays have now played a total of 16 games against the Rockies since 2002, winning nine and losing seven.
Watch: Estrada Strikes out 8 (Courtesy of MLB)