Estrada presents an insoluble problem
The Orioles could not have asked for much more than what starting pitcher Wade Miley gave them Monday night, but it didn’t matter because they could not figure out wily Toronto Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.
Estrada is one of those pitchers who tie Orioles hitters in knots. He doesn’t throw very hard, but he locates a lot of offspeed stuff and he lets batters get themselves out. Throw in the giant strike zone of home plate umpire Alan Porter and the Orioles didn’t have a chance.
They managed just a solo home run by J.J. Hardy and now are looking four games up at the first-place Blue Jays (75-56) after a 5-1 loss before an announced 15,532 at Camden Yards.
Miley was coming off a solid start against the Washington Nationals and followed with a quality start against another good lineup. But his three runs allowed on five hits over seven innings is only good enough if you have modest run support. The Orioles (71-60) had just four hits over seven-plus innings against Estrada (8-6).
Trouble is, Estrada might be the most beatable of the three starting pitchers scheduled to face the Orioles in this series. They get left-hander J.A. Happ, who is 17-4, tonight and righthander Aaron Sanchez, 12-2 with a 2.99 ERA, in the series finale.
They’ve got to find a way to not be six games out of first when the Blue Jays leave town.
“Obviously, these games are important,” said Hardy, who had two of the Orioles’ hits, “but we’ve just got to go out there and not put too much pressure on ourselves. They’re big games, but we’re just going to go out there and try to win.”
Miley did what he could. He retired the first 10 batters he faced before faltering long enough in the fourth inning to give up a pair of runs on a home run by Josh Donaldson and a two-out RBI single by Troy Tulowitzki. He also allowed a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista in the sixth.
“I felt I was in a pretty good rhythm at times out there,” Miley said. Catcher Matt Wieters “did a good job. We were on the same page for the most part. The whole game he knew where I wanted to go and we went there and had some success.”
The Blue Jays have been on an Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada allowed just one run and four hits, two by J.J. Hardy, in seven innings. offensive roll. They battered the Minnesota Twins all weekend, so the Orioles’ holding them to three runs through the first eight innings presented an opportunity that might not be there again this week.
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will try to pick up where he left off in a strong performance Thursday when he takes the mound tonight. Hardy’s homer: There wasn’t much going on for either team through the first three innings, but Hardy broke the scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the third, his eighth homer of the season. Six have come since July 10.