He silenced one of the most dangerous offensive teams in baseball with a superb performance on the grand stage of the playoffs.
And to do that while pitching with a herniated disk in his back tells you all you need to know about the grit Marco Estrada brought to the mound against the Texas Rangers on Thursday.
Estrada was sensational, his mesmerizing changeup keeping the would-be Rangers hitters at bay most of the way as the Toronto Blue Jays waltzed to a 10-1 victory in the first game of the American League Division Series at Globe Life Park.
“He’s mastered his craft,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said about his starter, who allowed just one run and four hits through 8 1/3 dominating innings. “I mean, he was sticking it today.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get too revved up.”
Well, maybe a little bit: while pitching into the ninth inning on Thursday trying not only for the first complete game of his career but what would have been the first complete game for a Toronto starter this season.
It was there that Estrada surrendered a leadoff triple to Elvis Andrus, which curtailed his bid to become the first Toronto pitcher since Dave Stieb in 1985 not to allow an earned run in a playoff start.
Andrus scored when Shin-Soo Choo grounded out to first base, prompting Gibbons to start his slow walk from the dugout to take Estrada out of the game.
“I was looking at Gibby the whole time,” said Estrada, who desperately wanted to stay in the game. “I was yelling, ‘I got it, I got it.’ He never really looked up at me.”
It was a great performance nonetheless by Estrada, who was selected to the All-Star Game this season but had to skip it because of back woes that continue to bother him.
Once he got over getting pulled, Estrada was able to reflect on his great outing and how he was able to remain so calm in a pressure-packed situation.
“To be honest with you … I don’t change anything,” he said. “I think of it just as another regular-season game. Why am I going to add extra pressure on myself? There’s no point to doing that, you know.”
Gibbons said he has seen Estrada that good many times.
“I think he’s a very confident, relaxed guy,” Gibbons said. “And probably as good as any pitcher I’ve ever had that in crunch time, [when] he gets in those jams, he’s Houdini.”Report Typo/Error
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