TORONTO -- There have been nights when Marco Estrada didn't have a feel for his fastball, changeup or curveball. Since joining the Blue Jays prior to 2015, there had never really been a night when he didn't have any of them working, but it happened Friday night.
Estrada set a career high by walking seven batters in the Blue Jays' 7-4 loss to the Red Sox. He allowed just two hits over 4 1/3 innings, but the erratic command led to a high pitch count and overshadowed everything else. The month of June has been cruel to Estrada, and before the calendar switched over to July, he had one last nightmare to endure.
"It [stunk]," Estrada said after the game. "Seven walks. I had no feel for anything. I don't know. I had no feel for a four-seam fastball, which rarely happens. Obviously everything comes off of that. Every pitch [stunk].
"It's hard to take right now, because obviously we lost. Just mad at myself for not going deep into this game. We had it, we had a great chance to win and the boys put up some runs early."
Estrada was responsible for half of Toronto's 14 walks in the series opener. It marked the fourth time in franchise history the Blue Jays walked at least that many batters in one game and the first since May 9, 2002, at Seattle. The most disturbing part for Estrada might be that the lack of command has become an ongoing concern, with at least four walks in each of his last three outings.
Estrada got off to a hot start this year, and he arguably was the club's most valuable pitcher over the first two months of the season. He had a 3.15 ERA, but that has since risen to 4.86. In six June starts, Estrada went 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA. The 33-year-old tossed at least six innings just once over that span, and he clearly is searching for answers.
Toronto has yet to pinpoint the exact nature of Estrada's issues. His velocity has been fine and he claims to be healthy. There was some speculation earlier in the month that he might have been tipping pitches, but that wasn't the problem on Friday night. The Sox weren't hitting him hard, they just weren't getting many pitches that were enticing enough to swing at.
"I've never seen anything like that, and I guarantee it's never happened to him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He didn't have a real good feel, maybe rushing a little bit. Something was out of whack. He didn't give up many hits, that's for sure. ... Wash it off. Move on. Don't dwell on that one."
That might be easier said than done for Estrada, who was wearing the emotions on his sleeve after the game. He was angry about the walks, about not pitching deep into the game, and most important, costing his team a crucial victory against first-place Boston.
"I didn't have a feel for anything," Estrada said. "It's [nobody's] fault but mine. I was wild today, plain and simple. At a certain point, I didn't really have any clue where the ball was going. So I just said, 'Throw it down the middle and hope it goes to either side.' I was lost with every pitch out there and I don't understand why it happened. Obviously, I've been struggling, but I've had feel for the ball and today I didn't have any feel for it."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. 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.