OAKLAND, Calif. — Right-hander Marco Estrada returns in time to give one more performance for potential trade partners before the annual July 31 trade deadline Monday night when the Toronto Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
Both teams traveled after completing road series on Sunday, with the Blue Jays winning a second straight against the Chicago White Sox by a 7-4 count, while the A’s were losing a third in a row, 3-2 to the Colorado Rockies.
The A’s suffered more than just three setbacks on the field in Denver. They also lost valuable utility man Chad Pinder to an elbow injury that occurred when he and his fiancée were in a car accident on Saturday afternoon.
Neither was seriously injured, but Pinder had to be placed on the 10-day disabled list with three stitches in his left elbow.
“Feel for him. That’s a real-life circumstance there,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday’s game. “Glad it wasn’t worse.”
After putting up 41 runs in a four-game sweep at Texas earlier in the week, the A’s were held to a total of four runs by the Rockies.
They’ll open an eight-game homestand Monday with veteran Edwin Jackson (1-2, 3.86 ERA) seeking to end a four-game winless run.
The 34-year-old Jackson will be dueling the 35-year-old Estrada (4-7, 4.72 ERA) for just the second time in their long careers. Estrada got the better of the first meeting, with his Milwaukee Brewers beating Jackson’s Chicago Cubs 7-4 in 2013.
Jackson has gone 4-3 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 career games, including 14 starts, against the Blue Jays.
Toronto will take the field Monday night about 24 hours before Tuesday’s trade deadline, with rumors swirling around the team.
The Blue Jays already dealt pitchers J.A. Happ and Seunghwan Oh over the past four days, with Estrada perhaps the next to go.
Estrada hasn’t pitched in the majors since July 3, when he left his start against the New York Mets in the first inning with a strained left glute.
He was subsequently sent to Triple-A for an injury-rehab start, during which he sustained a blister on his right middle finger.
Estrada nonetheless has been deemed healthy enough to make the deadline-beating start, in hopes he can retain the form that saw him go 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA in June.
He’s aware this could be his last outing as a Blue Jay.
“I know it could be a possibility, but I also know that I’m coming off an injury, so [a trade] might take a little longer or might not even happen,” Estrada noted. “Either way, I’m not focused on any of that. I want to compete and give these guys a chance to win. That’s really it. I’m focused on this team.”
Estrada has pitched only once in Oakland in his career, suffering a 4-1 loss last June.
He’s 0-3 with a 5.91 ERA in four career starts against the A’s.
The A’s have won eight of their last 10 home games.