Estrada presents an in­sol­u­ble prob­lem

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Peter Schmuck peter.schmuck@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Sch­muck­S­top

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.

GREG FI­UME/GETTY IMAGES

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