Estrada 7 hitless innings, tempers flare

By Bob Elliott

One inning into his start Marco Estrada was told by plate ump C.B. Bucknor not to dare hit any Baltimore Orioles.

Estrada didn’t.

He didn’t come close to hitting any one.

And the Orioles didn’t come close to hitting Estrada until his 118th pitch when pinch hitter Jimmy Paredes blooped a single into left leading off the eighth on a raucous Rogers Centre Friday night in front of 32,222 fans.

The Jays scored their ninth straight win at home with a 5-4 victory in a game featuring two ejections, three hit batters, 11 walks and the tying run racing for home as the final out was made at first.

Brett Cecil worked a very nervy ninth for his fifth save facing seven hitters and allowing a two-run single to Adam Jones. Cecil struck out Chris Davis on his 32nd pitch -- a ball in the dirt catcher Dioner Navarro blocked and then threw to first. 

Dave Stieb and ... Estrada? 

Six outs from the second no hitter in franchise history the list of no hitters by Jays history remains Stieb and ... no one else. Not any of the former Cy Young award winners Rogers Clemens, Pat Hentgen or Roy Halladay.

“I thought I heard the bat break,” Estrada told reporters of the only hit he allowed. “I was ready to go on, I was ready to throw 200 pitches.”

Bucknor issued first inning warnings after O’s starter Mike Wright had hit Jose Bautista, leading to manager John Gibbons being ejected.

“It kind of sucked when the warnings were issued,” said Estrada. “It didn’t affect the way I pitched. I tried to pitch my game. It’s not like I try to hit anyone.”

Roberto Osuna took over for Estrada in the eighth and one out later allowed back-to-back singles and then hit Jones with a 3-1 pitch.

Now Osuna likely wasn’t trying to hit Jones bringing the tying run to the plate. Yet, Bucknor ejected Osuna and automatically tossed bench coach DeMarlo Hale too leaving third base coach Luis Rivera in charge. 

On came Steve Delabar who got a ground ball out, walked Matt Weiters and popped up J.J Hardy. 

Hard feelings: Why are the Orioles like elephants?

They never forget like every other team.

The Orioles have played 53 games -- the Blue Jays 55 -- since they were at the Rogers Centre April 21. That night Jason Garcia buzzed Bautista and the Jays slugger went deep and slow strolled the bases as Orioles infielders hooted at him to run.

The Orioles and the Jays met three times in Baltimore with Bautista starting the final two games without incident. 

And on Friday the first pitch from Wright with two out grazed Bautista’s shirt and it was Game On. 

Hit rewind.

Bautista stood in the batter’s box glaring as Bucknor ripped off his mask and issued warnings to both the Jays and the Orioles.

Out came Gibbons who was quickly tossed.

“I’ve been out before when warnings were issued, there was a little paranoia going on, I think I have the right to question why warnings were issued,” Gibbons told reporters.

Bautista, who only wanted to talk about Estrada post-game, went to first and was spotted chirping with Jones in the O’s first-base dugout.

When the first inning ended with the Jays up 2-0 Weiters and Bucknor talked and out came Buck Showalter.

Rivals: It’s been a while since the Blue Jays had a rival like this

Think the late 1980s and early 1990s ...

Dave Parker, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley and Tony La Russa of the Oakland A’s denying any wrong doing.

And Todd Stottlemyre, Ernie Whitt, Kelly Gruber, George Bell and Cito Gaston in the other dugout denying any wrong doing.

Did the Orioles try to hit Bautista on purpose in the first?

Gibbons said he didn’t know, but “I do know you have to pitch him tight. Considering the history enough is enough.”

Bautista said he had “suspicions, but he didn’t have any proof.”

Russell Martin compared the Orioles-Jays rivalry to his days in Pittsburgh when his Pirates battled the Brewers. Gibbons said it reminded him of the Texas Longhorns-Texas A@M Aggies. Ryan Tepera said it was like when his Sam Houston State Bearkats facing the Rice Owls.

Asked if he took to Instagram a la Pablo Sandoval, Gibbons answered “what’s Instagram?”

The next game, er round, goes Saturday afternoon.

In game: The best play behind Estrada was shortstop Jose Reyes moving to his right in the fourth to field a ground ball and throw out Weiters ... The Jays went up 5-0 in the third when Chris Colabello scored on a fly ball by Dioner Navarro ... Toronto scored a pair in the second on four walks and a Reyes single. Wright walked Bautista with the base loaded on four pitches ... Edwin Encarnacion hit the second pitch after Bautista was plunked to centre for a run-scoring double and Justin Smoak traded places with him hitting a ground-rule double to left.

Ratings bonanza: Jerry (No Voice) Howarth is listed among the probable announcers alongside Joe Siddall and Mike Wilner Saturday afternoon. The long-time picture-painter lost his most valuable tool -- his voice -- and missed 13 games due to laryngitis. There is a rumor he did not lose it cheering for his Chicago Black Hawks.