Blue Jays Notebook: Estrada could be latest pitcher to miss time

John Gibbons talks about Marco Estrada’s early exit against Mets and why he felt the Blue Jays would rally back to pick up the win.

TORONTO – Down two starters already and with two key relievers also on the disabled list, the loss of Marco Estrada is a worrisome possibility for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The right-hander was to undergo an MRI scan on his left hip after soreness in the joint forced him from Tuesday’s 8-6 comeback win over the New York Mets after only 12 pitches.

X-rays at the ballpark were negative but the Blue Jays sent him for further tests to try and identify what the issue was.

“His left hip has been bothering him a little bit, it was bothering him in his last start (at Houston last week) and was worse tonight,” manager John Gibbons said afterwards. “I’m immune to (all the injuries).”

Aaron Sanchez (right index finger) and Jamie Garcia (shoulder), both of whom are playing catch but don’t have defined timelines for a return, are already on the disabled list, as are Ryan Tepera (elbow) and Danny Barnes (knee), leaving the Blue Jays perilously thin.

Estrada, who allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings of versus the Astros last time out, had just thrown Michael Conforto a fastball that was fouled off to make the count 0-2, when he looked uncomfortable and trainer Nikki Huffman rushed out.

After a brief discussion, Estrada came out of the game, having struck out Brandon Nimmo, walked Jose Bautista and surrendered a two-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera.

Jake Petricka took over, the first of seven Blue Jays relievers, and struck out Conforto, working 2.2 innings in all, allowing two runs on a Devin Mesoraco homer. It was “a juggling act,” for Gibbons from that point forward, complicated by the absence of Seugnhwan Oh, who was sent home with a “stomach bug,” the manager revealed.

Petricka, Preston Guilmet, Tim Mayza and John Axford each went more than an inning.

“Normally you have to (extend relievers in that situation),” said Gibbons. “I looked at the score when they went up 4-0, and if it had been 2-0 say, I might have gone to somebody a little bit earlier to try and keep it there. You figure you try to get a couple of innings out of each guy, hopefully, but they’re only geared for X number of pitches anyway. They all hung in there.”

Axford, the penultimate reliever, pitched a scoreless eighth after the Blue Jays tied the game 6-6 with a five-run seventh, and then got two outs in the ninth before a Bautista single and Cabrera walk.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was panic immediately,” Axford said of the reaction when Estrada was pulled. “A lot of guys have their routines and go through things at particular times, and today, everyone got thrown off, even sitting where you sit.”

Understanding he might need to go more than inning, Axford said, “it’s not like you try to change anything, but you do know that attacking hitters and trying to get balls put in play as quickly as possible is the best scenario for you in those moments.”

The Blue Jays have a bit of time if Estrada needs to miss a start, as they won’t need a fifth starter until next week in Boston.

As for his potential loss, Axford said: “That’s a tough situation. We’ll have to see how that plays out.”


BIRTHDAY BOY STRIKES: Say this for Yangervis Solarte, the way he swings, he isn’t going to get cheated at the plate. And he certainly didn’t on his 31st birthday, which was Tuesday, not on July 7 as it’s listed on major baseball resources online.

With two already in, two on and two out in the seventh, he stepped to the plate against Robert Gsellman, fouled off a sinker and a curveball and then timed up a 2-2 changeup to send it over the right-field wall to tie the game 6-6.

In combination with the new smartphone and VR gaming goggles his three daughters gave him as gifts earlier in the day, he had a pretty well-rounded birthday.

“I know I can hit homers but it’s not about trying to hit them, it’s about trying to hit the ball hard,” Solarte said of his approach in comments interpreted by Jose Peley. “I know if I hit the ball hard I have a chance to hit the ball out of the park. You try to study the pitcher, you’re trying to know what he’s going to throw to you.

“I got a good pitch to hit and I put good wood on it and the ball went out.”

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GURRIEL DELIVERS: John Gibbons wants to give Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a little bit of run in the infielder’s third stint in the majors this season.

“He’s got a ton of talent, we signed him out of Cuba for a reason,” Gibbons explained. “Might as well find out.”

Gurriel flashed some of that ability Tuesday, with a run-scoring groundout that kicked off the five-run seventh and a two-run homer that won it in the eighth. His fourth big-league homer was also his first go-ahead shot.

“I feel a little bit more comfortable and more confident,” Gurriel, speaking through Josue Peley, said of what’s different for him this time around. “I’m not going to say I have a lot of experience, but the first couple of times I was up, it really helped me a lot. Now the game has slowed down a little bit and I just feel better.”

His approach against Tim Peterson in the eighth?

“In that situation, I was just trying to make hard contact somewhere and stay in the middle of the field,” he explained. “He threw me a good pitch and I put good wood on it.”

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