Estrada struggles, Blue Jays lose 9-2 to Rays
TORONTO (AP) — This wasn’t the Marco Estrada the Toronto Blue Jays have grown accustomed to.
Drew Smyly pitched six innings to win consecutive decisions for the first time in 2016, Logan Forsythe hit a solo homer and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Estrada and the Blue Jays 9-2 on Tuesday night.
Estrada (7-5) allowed three runs, two earned, and seven hits in five innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.
“I thought he was a little bit off,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Estrada acknowledged being “a little rusty” but wasn’t too bothered by the result.
“These things are going to happen,” he said. “I’m not going to dial it up every time.”
Estrada, who missed last month’s All-Star Game because of a sore back, said the injury didn’t bother him against the Rays.
Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. took pride in beating Estrada.
“He’s obviously one of the better pitchers in the league, one of the elites,” Souza said. “To work him the way we did and to put together some quality at-bats, we just didn’t give him a break.”
Evan Longoria reached base four times, scored twice and drove in three runs for the Rays. Forsythe had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice as the Rays roughed up Toronto’s bullpen, scoring six runs off two relievers.
Tampa Bay finished with 15 hits, three shy of its season high. The Rays had 18 hits in a 13-7 victory over Boston on June 27.
“We stranded a lot of base runners early,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It was nice to see we kind of made up for that later in the ball game.”
Smyly (4-11) allowed two runs and six hits, improving to 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in five career games at Rogers Centre.
“They pieced together some singles but he limited the damage really, really well,” Cash said.
Smyly is 13-4 with a 2.32 ERA in 35 career games against the AL East. The Rays are 14-6 in Smyly’s 20 starts against division foes since he joined the team in 2014.
“Drew battled his tail off tonight,” Forsythe said.
Forsythe connected on Estrada’s fourth pitch of the game. It was Forsythe’s second career leadoff homer and the fourth of the season for the Rays.
Toronto scored twice off Smyly in the fifth, cutting a 3-0 deficit to one, but the Rays answered with two runs against Danny Barnes in the sixth and pulled away with a four-run, bat-around seventh against Scott Feldman.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth but couldn’t score. Troy Tulowitzki popped up Smyly’s first pitch, Michael Saunders struck out and Justin Smoak fouled out.
“That’s the difference maker right there,” Gibbons said.
HIT THE SHOWERS
Rain briefly fell into the open stadium during the bottom of the fourth but the showers soon passed.
LACKING THE LONG BALL
Toronto is 8-21 when it does not hit a home run.
Souza tried leaping into the stands down the right field line to catch Tulowitzki’s fly ball in the second, but collided with a fan in the front row. “I thought I had a chance and then it was a little bit farther than I thought,” Souza said.
Blue Jays: Toronto released LHP Franklin Morales. He went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four games before being designated for assignment last week. ... Barnes was optioned to Buffalo following the game.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell (3-4, 2.95) will face the Blue Jays for the first time. Snell has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past five starts.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (15-3, 3.09) has won nine straight decisions and is unbeaten since an 11-0 loss at Detroit on June 6. Happ is 0-1 with a 7.98 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season.