Blue Jays drop opener despite quality Estrada

Blue Jays drop opener despite quality Estrada

TORONTO -- James Paxton stole the show and had a night to remember at Rogers Centre on Friday, as the left-hander struck out nine Blue Jays and helped the Mariners take the first game of their weekend series, 2-1.

Paxton kept Toronto off balance all night, surrendering just three hits over seven innings. The nine strikeouts were one off a career-high for the 27-year-old southpaw, who helped the Mariners open their eight-game road trip on a high note.

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Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mariners on Friday.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Saunders shows power in 1st matchup with M's

Blue Jays' All-Star outfielder goes deep in loss to former team

Saunders shows power in 1st matchup with M's

TORONTO -- Michael Saunders spent his first six seasons in the Major Leagues with the Mariners, and he faced his former team for the first time on Friday night.

The 29-year-old was at the forefront in a pair of critical moments in the Blue Jays' 2-1 loss, finishing 1-for-4 with a home run, while also striking out to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.

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Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays activate Estrada, Morales from DL

Loup, Burns optioned to Triple-A, while Toronto DFA's Antolin

Blue Jays activate Estrada, Morales from DL

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays officially reinstated right-hander Marco Estrada from the 15-day disabled list to start Friday's series opener against the Mariners at Rogers Centre.

Estrada had been dealing with a sore lower back and missed his final outing before the All-Star break as a result. The 33-year-old received multiple cortisone shots in early July, and the break provided Estrada with additional time to rest. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons believes Estrada will return to his normal form down the stretch, as the Blue Jays aim to earn their second consecutive playoff berth.

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Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martin day to day after injuring knee in shower

Catcher passed out after spending time in sauna, doesn't foresee DL

Martin day to day after injuring knee in shower

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will be without the services of Russell Martin for at least the next couple of days after Toronto's starting catcher injured his left knee in the shower.

The veteran backstop took a shower after spending time in the sauna during Thursday's off-day and passed out for a brief amount of time, injuring his left knee in the process. An MRI on Friday morning showed no structural damage and Martin is expected to avoid a stint on the disabled list, listing himself as day-to-day.

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Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickey gets call for matinee vs. Mariners

Dickey gets call for matinee vs. Mariners

Hisashi Iwakuma will look for his fourth straight victory when he takes the mound on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre in the second game of the Mariners' three-game series against the Blue Jays.

The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings while surrendering just two hits and striking out eight with one walk his last time out on July 16 against the Houston Astros. Iwakuma (10-6, 4.01) has not lost a start since June 28 and has won six of his last seven outings.

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Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alford, Zeuch among top prospect performers Friday

Mariners slugger makes immediate impact with new team; top Twins prospect fires eight strong

Alford, Zeuch among top prospect performers Friday

Dan Vogelbach sure knows how to make an introduction. Playing in his first game with Triple-A Tacoma since being traded from the Cubs to the Mariners on Wednesday, Seattle's new No. 15 prospect went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

The 23-year-old wasted no time showing off his power stroke, hitting his 17th homer of the season in his first at-bat with Tacoma. After hitting that solo blast to right field in the second inning, Vogelbach followed up with an RBI double to left in the third.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Could Sanchez be headed to the bullpen?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from Blue Jays fans

Inbox: Could Sanchez be headed to the bullpen?

I'm so confused about the plan for Aaron Sanchez. Are the Blue Jays going to move him to the bullpen?
-- Kristy M., Toronto

To be honest, I'm as confused as you are. Sanchez to the bullpen was a foregone conclusion earlier this year, but there have been at least a few hints that the line of thinking might be starting to change. Manager John Gibbons' stance of "it's going to happen" has changed to "it's probably going to happen."

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson makes splash, Blue Jays bash D-backs

Donaldson makes splash, Blue Jays bash D-backs

PHOENIX -- The heat of the desert certainly didn't sap the power from the bats of the Blue Jays as they pounded the D-backs, 10-4, on Wednesday afternoon to sweep the brief two-game series at Chase Field.

The top two hitters in the Toronto lineup -- Darwin Barney and Josh Donaldson -- combined to drive in six runs, and Edwin Encarnacion chipped in two of his own with a 471-foot homer as part of a 13-hit attack.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman looks noticeablely better vs. D-backs

Stroman looks noticeablely better vs. D-backs

PHOENIX -- Marcus Stroman has received a lot of criticism this season, but he has a reason to be encouraged after another strong outing on Wednesday afternoon.

Stroman allowed one run and matched his season high with eight innings during the Blue Jays' 10-4 victory over the D-backs. He didn't allow an extra-base hit and recorded most of his outs on the ground en route to the quality start.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Edwing strikes again in Arizona, hits one 471 feet

Edwing strikes again in Arizona, hits one 471 feet

PHOENIX -- There are home runs, and then there are home runs like the one Edwin Encarnacion hit at Chase Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Encarnacion absolutely crushed a two-run shot to left field during the eighth inning of the Blue Jays' 10-4 victory over the D-backs. According to Statcast™, the ball landed a projected 471 feet away and left his bat at 112 mph.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Short-handed Blue Jays have Saunders sit out

Short-handed Blue Jays have Saunders sit out

PHOENIX -- Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders missed Wednesday afternoon's game against the D-Backs because he had to return home for personal reasons.

Toronto manager John Gibbons does not expect Saunders' absence to be a long one. The All-Star likely will re-join the Blue Jays in time for their series opener against the Mariners on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sanchez's breakout season continues

Sanchez's breakout season continues

PHOENIX -- Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez continued his winning ways Tuesday night at Chase Field.

The All-Star right-hander allowed just one run over seven innings and the Blue Jays got a three-run homer from Edwin Encarnacion as they beat the D-backs, 5-1. Sanchez (10-1, 2.87 ERA) has won his last nine decisions.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Encarnacion continues to rake at Chase Field

Slugger has nine homers in 16 games at D-backs' home

Encarnacion continues to rake at Chase Field

PHOENIX -- Count Edwin Encarnacion among those who wishes the Blue Jays played at Chase Field more than once every few years.

Encarnacion has put up some eye-popping numbers at the D-backs' home ballpark, and he was back at it again Tuesday night. The veteran slugger hit a three-run shot to help lead the Blue Jays to a 5-1 victory in the series opener.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bautista tentatively to return Monday

Slugger slated to begin rehab assignment Wednesday

Bautista tentatively to return Monday

PHOENIX -- Jose Bautista is nearing a return from a hyperextended big toe on his left foot and is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Blue Jays on Monday.

Bautista will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday. He will remain there for just one day before traveling Buffalo to continue his progression in anticipation of a return.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Decision looming on Morales' future

Decision looming on Morales' future

PHOENIX -- The Blue Jays will have to make a final decision over the next 48 hours about the status of left-hander Franklin Morales.

Morales is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. Morales will reach his maximum of 30 days on assignment Wednesday, and after that he'll need to be activated, released or designated for assignment.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reid-Foley among top prospect performers Tuesday

Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect strikes out 10 in 6 one-hit frames, Nats' No. 1 wins Triple-A debut

Reid-Foley among top prospect performers Tuesday

After he gave up a season-worst six earned runs in his last start, Sean Reid-Foley returned to form Tuesday as he fired six innings of one-hit ball to lead Class A Advanced Dunedin in a 2-0 shutout over Charlotte.

Reid-Foley, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, struck out the side in his first and last innings of work and fanned 10 of the 21 hitters he faced, marking his third start this season in which he's recorded double-digit strikeouts. He recorded five ground-ball outs and walked a pair, while throwing 57 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pillar is Blue Jays' winner of Heart and Hustle Award

Award recognizes passion, desire and work ethic

Pillar is Blue Jays' winner of Heart and Hustle Award

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) announced the 30 preliminary winners of the 2016 Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday, honoring one player from each of the 30 Major League teams.

The Heart and Hustle Award, given annually, celebrates active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. It's the only award in the Majors that is voted on by former players, and voting is conducted prior to the All-Star break.

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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sanchez a factor in Blue Jays' Deadline plans

Sanchez a factor in Blue Jays' Deadline plans

The Red Sox made their moves and there's a good chance more transactions are on the way. Now the question is what -- if anything -- the Blue Jays and Orioles will do to respond before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

With 2 1/2 months remaining, the American League East is completely up for grabs. Baltimore entered play on Monday with a two-game lead over Boston and a three-game lead over Toronto for first place. At this point, it's anyone's game.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson blisters A's to spark MVP chant

Donaldson blisters A's to spark MVP chant

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson squandered an opportunity to deliver a crushing blow to the A's in the seventh inning Sunday, flying out with two runners on to end the inning. He made the most of a second chance against his former team when he came to the plate in the ninth.

Donaldson's go-ahead two-run double helped the Blue Jays claim a 5-3 win and avoid a three-game sweep, earning him a chorus of "MVP" chants from a strong Toronto contingent at the Coliseum. The reigning American League MVP is hitting .306 in 12 games versus Oakland since being traded in 2014, and has reached base in 22 straight games.

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Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area and covered the A's on Sunday.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Estrada's 'cue ball' fastball propelling him to stardom

.193 BABIP against would set modern baseball record

Estrada's 'cue ball' fastball propelling him to stardom

Marco Estrada may not have known he was on track to set a modern Major League record when he talked to reporters last week at the All-Star Game in San Diego. (He is! More on that in a second.) And he may not know why his effective fastball behaves so differently than most others, saying, "I think it's just natural, to be honest with you; I'm not holding the ball any different, it's just a normal four-seam fastball," when asked.

But Estrada definitely knows there's something unique about that pitch, and he's on the right track when he talks about how it looks coming out of his hand:

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ shakes off comebacker scares

Lefty stays in game after being struck on forearm, thigh

Happ shakes off comebacker scares

OAKLAND -- Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ was left battered and bruised on the mound Sunday afternoon, but it had nothing to do with his pitching performance. He fell victim to the comebackers.

Happ was struck twice by batted balls during Toronto's 5-3 victory over the A's. A line drive in the fifth inning went off his left forearm, and another hot shot up the middle struck the back of his right thigh in the sixth.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Junior Lake liked this pitch so much he hit it twice

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Junior Lake liked this pitch so much he hit it twice

In the ninth inning of Sunday's Blue Jays-A's game, Junior Lake made poor contact on an inside fastball from John Axford -- probably a groundout to the left side of the infield. But instead of settling for the out and walking dejectedly back toward the dugout, Lake slowed down time Click-style and hit the pitch again with the sweet part of the bat -- depositing a single into center field.

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Blue Jays host Honda Super Camp in Victoria

Blue Jays host Honda Super Camp in Victoria

Youth baseball players from Victoria, British Columbia, and throughout Vancouver Island had a chance of a lifetime on July 12 and 13, as the Blue Jays Honda Super Camps came to town, with many Blue Jays alumni serving as instructors at the two-day instructional clinic.

Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar headlined the list of alumni in attendance, which also included former outfielders Lloyd Moseby and John Mayberry, closer Duane Ward and infielder Rance Mulliniks.

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Jonathan Hodgson is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays, Smoak agree to two-year extension

Toronto GM says deal doesn't mean impending free agent Encarnacion is gone

Blue Jays, Smoak agree to two-year extension

OAKLAND -- General manager Ross Atkins is adamant that the decision to sign first baseman Justin Smoak does not mean that the Blue Jays have given up on the possibility of bringing back Edwin Encarnacion this offseason.

Toronto made a surprise move on Saturday morning by announcing a two-year deal for Smoak that includes a club option for a third year. Smoak, who was in line to become a free agent at the end of this season, will earn $4.125 million in each of the next two seasons, and the club option in 2019 is valued at $6 million with a $250,000 buyout.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Long story short: Dickey allows 3 more homers

Long story short: Dickey allows 3 more homers

OAKLAND -- R.A. Dickey surrenders a lot of home runs, and that will probably never change. For the most part, though, the veteran knuckleballer has been able to limit the damage. That did not happen Saturday afternoon, however, at Oakland Coliseum.

Dickey surrendered three home runs, including a three-run shot to A's rookie Ryon Healy during Toronto's 5-4 loss. The 41-year-old righty allowed just five hits, but with the ball carrying well on a sunny afternoon, it was enough for the A's.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Urena among top prospect performers Saturday

Tigers pitcher fans 11 in dominant outing; Cubs' top prospect reaches five times, plates four

Urena among top prospect performers Saturday

Traded three times in his career and twice during the offseason, Myles Jaye is settling in as a member of the Detroit Tigers' organization.

Jaye, the Tigers' No. 24 prospect, was brilliant on Saturday as he fired 8 1/3 innings of two-hit ball and set a new career best with 11 strikeouts to help pace Double-A Erie in a 1-0 shutout over Akron. He induced nine ground-ball outs and did not issue a walk, throwing 64 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Encarnacion, Smoak homer, but can't bail out Dickey

Encarnacion, Smoak homer, but can't bail out Dickey

OAKLAND -- Khris Davis belted a pair of homers, Ryon Healy hit his first and Sonny Gray won for the first time in nearly three months on Saturday, as the A's hung on to beat the Blue Jays, 5-4, at the Coliseum.

Toronto starter R.A. Dickey allowed all three A's home runs, including two in the second inning. Davis hit the first of his solo homers and Healy wrapped a three-run shot around the foul pole in left for his first Major League hit, giving Oakland a 4-2 lead. Dickey settled down to retire 12 of the next 13 batters before Davis hit a towering shot to right field in the sixth, giving the A's a 5-3 lead.

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Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.