Navarro will continue catching Estrada

Blue Jays catcher, pitcher have built solid rapport

Navarro will continue catching Estrada

BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons intends to keep pairing right-hander Marco Estrada with catcher Dioner Navarro for the rest of the regular season and into an eventual appearance in the postseason.

Navarro has been Estrada's personal catcher for most of the year and the batterymates once again worked with each other during Monday night's 4-3 victory over the Orioles. But until Monday it wasn't clear whether the pairing would last beyond the end of this week.

Gibbons put an end to that debate on the same day the Blue Jays lowered their magic number to clinch the American League East to two while also pulling a full game ahead of the Royals for the top record in the league and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"I think you have to, it has been so good," Gibbons said when asked about using Navarro with Estrada in the postseason. "The season is almost over anyway. I would hate to be the cause of a bad outing for him."

The approach is different than the one the Blue Jays decided to take with Russell Martin and veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Until recently, third-stringer Josh Thole had been Dickey's personal catcher, but that changed a couple of weeks ago.

Martin has caught each of Dickey's past two starts in an effort to get the two acclimated with each other before the postseason. There was a possibility that would happen with Estrada as well, but the Blue Jays will instead use Navarro. The duo has formed a strong bond and their game plans seem to line up well with Navarro's preference for offspeed pitches matching up with Estrada's curveball and changeup combination.

Estrada has a 2.56 ERA in 18 games with Navarro. Entering play Monday, the righty has limited the opposition to a .185 batting average and a .600 OPS over 105 2/3 innings. Estrada has a 4.11 ERA with a .244 opponents' batting average and a .710 OPS, but a lot of that dates back to earlier in the year.

"It's awesome working with the guy. He knows how to call a game that's for sure and I just try to follow, try to keep up with him as much as I can," Estrada said. "I don't really disagree with the guy ever, once in awhile it might but it really hasn't happened to be honest with you. And like I've said before, if I hit the glove I'm probably going to be pretty successful."

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.