OAKLAND — Marco Estrada had a rough start on Tuesday against the Houston Astros, allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, but it turns out there was a reason: He was pitching hurt.
The Oakland Athletics placed the starter on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, with a lumbar strain in his back.
“It’s shown,” said Estrada of his injury. “The velo is down, I’m not locating. I don’t hit guys, I don’t walk guys. I couldn’t pitch yesterday.”
On Tuesday, the right-hander faced 19 Astros hitters and issued three walks and a hit batsman, while also serving up two home runs. It was his second straight poor outing, and this time his fastball never even reached 89 mph. His heater is averaging under 88 mph this season, a full mile-per-hour below his previous career-low.
“When I’m healthy, I know I can still pitch and pitch well for this team and help them win,” said Estrada. “But right now, obviously, I’m not helping them.”
Back problems are nothing new for Estrada, and he said this one has bothered him since the team left on its recently completed road trip. He’s hopeful that he’ll only need to miss one start, though, if all goes well.
“I’ve had issues before but normally they don’t last very long,” he said.
Manager Bob Melvin echoed that sentiment.
“We knew coming in that these were issues he’s had in the past,” said Melvin. “We knew when this pops up that it’s probably prudent to get him a break.”
To replace Estrada on the roster, pitcher Chris Bassitt was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Bassitt opened the season on the IL as well, after being hit in the leg with a liner last month in Japan, but he was activated on Tuesday and briefly optioned to the minors at that time. The right-hander might start in place of Estrada on the next turn through the rotation, or he might come out of the bullpen if needed. Bassitt pitched in 11 games for the A’s last season, including seven starts, and posted a strong 3.02 ERA.
In the meantime, the A’s face the Astros again on Wednesday. Frankie Montas will start for Oakland, bringing with him a 3.18 ERA over his first three outings of the year. He faced the Astros in Houston two weeks ago, and threw five solid innings while allowing just two runs to the defending AL West division champions. He’ll face lefty Wade Miley, who faced the A’s in that same Houston series and carried a shutout into the sixth inning.