Struggling A's take on Blue Jays, Estrada (Jul 26, 2017)

BY AP • July 26, 2017

TORONTO -- The Oakland Athletics are not swinging the bats well these days.

That might swing the tide in favor of Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who will be trying for his first win since May 27 when he faces the Athletics on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series at the Rogers Centre.

The A's will start Paul Blackburn (1-1, 2.88 ERA) as they try to even the season series with the Blue Jays. Toronto holds a 3-2 edge in games between the teams after a 4-2 win on Monday and a 4-1 victory on Tuesday.

Oakland (44-56) has lost 10 of its past 11 games at the Rogers Centre.

The loss Tuesday marked the 17th time this season that the Athletics scored one or no runs in a game.

This time, they fell to Cedar Valdez, who opened the season with the Athletics before losing him to the Blue Jays on a waiver claim May 5.

"We're not swinging the bats great right now, but you can't take away from the fact that (Valdez) did pitch well," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Oakland is batting .210 (147-for-700) in the past 22 games and .236 for the season.

"I thought we were a little anxious to start (the game) and maybe, as a whole, a little anxious right now," Melvin said of his hitters. "We did hit the ball harder later in the game."

Estrada (4-7, 5.52 ERA) has started nine games since his last win, going 0-5 with a 9.52 ERA. The Blue Jays are 2-7 in those games.

He took the loss in Oakland on June 6 when he allowed seven hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA in two career starts against Oakland.

In his most recent start, a 13-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday at Progressive Field, Estrada began the game well enough. He pitched a decent four innings but did not survive the fifth.

He allowed six hits, three walks and five runs in 4 2/3 innings. Estrada has allowed a .341 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage in his past nine starts.

"The fifth inning came along and I got tired and it all fell apart, plain and simple," Estrada said of the outing at Cleveland. "All I can do is keep working hard. I shouldn't be betting tired by the fifth inning."

Estrada's timing is bad. He can become a free agent at the end of the season. There also is some trade speculation, although his value would seem to be low.

"If it happens, it happens," Estrada said. "You can't control that stuff. I'm not pitching good anyway. We'll see."

Blackburn, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on July 1, is set to make his fifth start of the season -- and the fifth of his career.

He took loss Friday against the New York Mets, allowing six hits, one walk and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. In his first three starts, he allowed five runs (four earned) for a 1.83 ERA. Hitters are 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position against him.

Blackburn was 5-6 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) with Nashville. He ranked second in the Pacific Coast League in ERA and fourth in opponents' batting average (.231) at the time of his promotion.

He has never faced the Blue Jays.

The Athletics have lost six of their past eight games, and they have the worst road record in the American League, 16-33.

The Blue Jays (46-54) are 24-24 at home. The win Tuesday gave them consecutive victories at the Rogers Centre for the first time since May 29-31, when they swept the Cincinnati Reds in three games.

Toronto is 17-10 against the American League West this season.

share story