Skip to main content

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada throws a pitch during the first inning in a game against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre.

Pitch after pitch, Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees fouled into the stands at Rogers Centre in the first inning of Tuesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Perhaps the only person more upset with the lengthy at-bat than Toronto starting pitcher Marco Estrada was Jacoby Ellsbury, Gardner's teammate who was perched at first base at the time.

On four occasions, with the count at 3-2, Ellsbury was off and running on the pitch only to have to double back each time after Gardner sent the ball into foul territory.

Finally, on the 11th pitch, things broke Gardner's way and he stroked a flare into centre field that he turned into a double with his blazing speed.

Ellsbury pulled up at third base with nobody out, but he was not there for long.

The next batter, Alex Rodriguez, who was booed lustily every time he stepped up to the plate, doubled into the left-field corner to score both base runners for an early New York lead.

In a game where New York starter Michael Pineda was seemingly firing pellets, the Yankees nursed the lead into a 6-0 advantage before withstanding a late Toronto rally to earn a 6-3 decision.

For Estrada, who was making his first start of the season out of the bullpen and was on a pitch count of about 75, the drawn-out encounter with Gardner was the last thing he wanted.

"I knew I was on a limited pitch count today," Estrada said after the game. "It [the Gardner at-bat] got in my mind a little bit. I'm just kind of thinking to myself just put it in play somewhere so I can keep that pitch count down.

"It's unfortunate but he battled, he put up a great at-bat, there's nothing you can do about it."

Estrada was making his first start in place of rookie Daniel Norris, who was optioned back to Triple-A over the weekend after his continued struggles in a starting role.

All things considered, Estrada did not fare too badly in a tough situation. He lasted 4.2 innings, getting tagged for five of the New York runs (four earned) off eight hits while striking out three.

He gave up another run in the second inning, then settled down until the fifth, where he served up a mistake to Mark Teixeira, who rapped a two-run home run for a 5-0 New York lead.

"I thought, really, for his first start, it went okay," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "The first inning they battled him pretty good, they worked him over. And then he gave up the two runs.

"I thought he settled in pretty good. And then he accomplished what he needed to do. He'll just get better his next go-round."

Pineda improved to 4-0 on the year, working eight strong innings where he shut out the Toronto offence on five hits with six strikeouts.

David Carpenter came on in relief in the ninth inning, when Toronto finally showed some life, putting three runs across.

With closer Andrew Miller on the mound and the tying run at the plate, Miller got Devon Travis to fly out to end the game and earn his 11th save of the year.