Estrada shoulders blame after rough start

Moved up a day with Hutchison scratched, Blue Jays righty doesn't use it as an excuse

Estrada shoulders blame after rough start

SEATTLE -- Even when Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada doesn't have his best stuff, he usually can find a way to at least partially survive with above-average command, but that wasn't the case Friday night at Safeco Field.

Estrada missed his spot more often than not and there were far too many pitches left up in the zone en route to a 5-2 loss to the Marienrs. The pitching line was decent enough until the fifth inning, but there was hard contact throughout and that ultimately resulted in a short night.

The 32-year-old finesse pitcher allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks over four-plus innings. After the game, he took full responsibility for the outing and admitted it was a night when he just didn't have it.

"I was all over the place," said Estrada, who dropped to 7-6 with a 3.55 ERA. "You can't do that, especially when you're going against a guy like Felix. The guys scored early for us and I just let them down today. I was all over the place."

To be fair, Estrada didn't know for sure whether he would be pitching until the day of his start. He was originally scheduled for an outing Saturday afternoon against former Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ, but that plan changed when right-hander Drew Hutchison was scratched a second straight day because of the flu.

Estrada didn't want to use that as an excuse after the game, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted: "That's the way it goes sometimes, but it's not ideal for Major League starting pitchers."

In the end, none of that really matters as the results on the field speak for themselves, and there wasn't much hope for a victory with Estrada not at his best and Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle.

Toronto's veteran right-hander did escape the first three innings unscathed, but his luck came to an end in the fourth when Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to right field. The problems continued in the following frame as Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz reached base to begin the inning and Robinson Cano chased Estrada with a two-run triple.

"No, I just didn't prepare right today," Estrada when asked if the short notice was a factor. "I let the game get away from me. It's just unfortunate. I was feeling good today and I just didn't make pitches."

Estrada had not allowed a run in 14 innings before the Trumbo homer. He also hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in a start since June 14. It's been a long string of success for a pitcher who didn't begin the year in the rotation but has since solidified his role.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.