Texas Rangers

Rangers have no answer in Game 1 for Blue Jays’ Estrada

Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada, right, was all smiles after dominating the Rangers in Game 1.
Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada, right, was all smiles after dominating the Rangers in Game 1. AP

Texas catcher Jonathan Lucroy knew what to expect out of Toronto starter Marco Estrada in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Thursday.

That didn’t keep Lucroy from going 0 for 3 against the Toronto starter with a pair of strikeouts.

Of course Lucroy had plenty of company in the 10-1 loss as the Rangers managed just four hits off Estrada in 8 1/3 innings as he put together the longest postseason start in Toronto history.

“I know exactly what he does,” Lucroy said. “I never had faced him, but I have been behind the plate for a lot of his games. He has that super changeup. It comes out of the same arm slot as his fastball and it’s hard to pick between the two. It comes there and looks so good and you can’t stay back on it. You end up swinging at it, missing it or looking bad.”

Estrada made plenty of Texas hitters look bad. He allowed an infield single to Adrian Beltre to lead off the second and didn’t allow another hit until Elvis Andrus opened the sixth with a single. Texas didn’t get a runner into scoring position against him until Andrus opened the ninth with a triple.

Estrada didn’t walk a batter, struck out six and needed just 98 pitches to retire 25 batters.

“The changeup was a really good pitch today,” Estrada said. “I was getting a lot of swings and misses on it. But I think the most important thing was just getting ahead of the count. It just makes pitching a little easier.”

So does having the kind of run support Estrada did Thursday. He had a five-run lead to work with heading into the bottom of the third inning and a 7-0 lead in the fourth. That allowed him to go into attack mode as he became just the third starter in Toronto postseason history to pitch at least eight innings and allow one run or less. He’s the first to do it since David Cone in Game 2 of the 1992 American League Championship Series.

“Obviously we would have liked to have played a lot more competitively,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “But the other thing that you’ve got to look at too, is Estrada threw a heck of a game. You have to give him a little bit of credit with how he pitched, the ability to throw the changeup at any time at any count.”

The loss leaves Texas in scramble mode, but they weren’t concerned about that Thursday. The Rangers have 53 wins at Globe Life Park this season and 49 come-from-behind wins.

And in Game 2 they won’t have to face Estrada again.

“He pitched good today,” said second baseman Rougned Odor, who went 0 for 3. “But we’ve come back a lot. We never give up. Today was one of those games. We’re going to forget this game and come back tomorrow like it’s the first game.”