Blue Jays 3 Athletics 2
TORONTO — If Wednesday night’s start was Marco Estrada’s last in a Blue Jays uniform, he wasn’t happy with the way he performed.
The pending free agent, who could be moved before next Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, pitched five full innings for the first time since June 24, and allowed only two runs and three hits while striking out four in Toronto’s eventual 3-2 walkoff win over the Oakland Athletics.
But Estrada also walked four batters for the sixth time in his last seven outings, and failed to earn a win for a 10th straight start.
And he had no interest in sugar coating any of that.
“I need to get better with everything,” a sullen Estrada said after a celebratory Drake song had been turned off in an otherwise happy Toronto clubhouse. “I need to locate better. … I think I walked four guys again and this isn’t like me. It’s frustrating. But we won and that’s all that matters.
“Believe it or not I’m pretty excited we won.”
Justin Smoak tied the game with a two-run homer to the second deck in the ninth, and Kendrys Morales followed with a solo shot that just cleared the right-field wall as the Blue Jays rallied for their third straight victory.
Josh Donaldson started the rally with a leadoff walk off Santiago Casilla (2-5), who then allowed the back-to-back homers, spoiling a stellar start from Oakland’s rookie right-hander Paul Blackburn.
It was the sixth time this season the Blue Jays (47-54) had hit back-to-back homers. They can sweep the four-game series with a victory Thursday afternoon.
Morales said his home-run pitch from Casilla was a fastball right down the middle.
“I wasn’t too sure (it would make it over the wall),” Morales said. “I was just trying to put the ball in the air and put a good swing on it. He made a little mistake and it went out.
“I wanted to get a good pitch and congrats, I got it.”
Marcus Semien homered for the Athletics (44-57).
Blackburn, in just his fifth major league start, allowed two hits, walked three and struck out three over a clinical 98-pitch no-decision.
Toronto didn’t get its second hit off Blackburn until the sixth inning — a two-out double from Donaldson on the rookie’s 82nd pitch of the game. The double was met with loud, enthusiastic cheers from the 41,984 in attendance, but the crowd quieted considerably as Smoak lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
Estrada looked to have run into trouble early, walking back-to-back batters with one out in the first inning and allowing a two-out single to load the bases. He got out of the jam with a Ryon Healy pop up, then retired seven straight batters before a one-out double to Yonder Alonso in the fourth.
The game turned for Estrada in the fifth as he walked Matt Joyce before allowing Semien’s two-run homer to left-field for a 2-0 Oakland lead. He walked the next batter, then got a strikeout to end the inning and his night.
“It was very big, both for himself and for the team,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Estrada’s start. “He gave up that two-run homer and we were down, but he’s got to be able to take something from that, I would hope.
“He’s probably still a little frustrated but we saw some good things and he got to five (innings), that’s been kind of his tough inning for a while now.”
Estrada, who was wearing the personalized Blue Jays robe given to him two seasons ago by former teammate David Price before speaking to the media after the game, said he’s not paying attention to any trade rumours as the deadline looms.
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “If it happens it happens.”
Smoak said Estrada has been instrumental to the team over the last three seasons.