Marco Estrada has been the mystery man on the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, his rapid fall from grace as an elite starter leaving the American League club dumbfounded to try and explain why.
Estrada has been so good in previous seasons that when the hard times arrived in 2017, everybody on the team just sort of brushed it off, reasoning the veteran change-up artist would straighten things out in his next start.
Over 20 starts in, the Blue Jays are still waiting as Estrada continued his bewildering downward slide at Rogers Centre on Wednesday night, pitching not too bad, but not really great, either.
Estrada's only saving grace was the booming ninth inning bats of Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, who each swatted dramatic back-to-back home runs as Toronto walked-off the Oakland A's with an improbable 3-2 win.
Oakland was well in control of this one, carting a 2-0 lead into Toronto's last at-bats where Santiago Casilla took the mound for the Athletics to try and protect the lead.
He issued a walk to Josh Donaldson before Smoak cranked his 28th home run of the year to right that deadlocked the score.
Morales then followed Smoak to the plate and he deposited another pitch over the right-field wall. It lifted the hometown fans out of their seats in wild jubilation as the Blue Jays designated hitter trotted around the bases to be mobbed at home plate by his teammates.
With the win, the Blue Jays have won the first three games of the four-game set.
And while a push toward the playoffs still has to be viewed as a longshot, the clubhouse is suddenly awash in rampant optimism thanks in a large part to Wednesday's unlikely comeback.
"It sparks you, man," Gibbons said. "We've actually played some pretty good baseball lately. Maybe it's the beginning of a nice streak. We'll see. Strange things happen in this game. We've still got two months.
"You've just got to approach it, hey win that day and two months from now see where we're at and live with it. Every team, especially in the wild card, is vulnerable one way or the other. You never give up. After 162 games if you're good enough you get in, if you're not you don't, it's pretty simple."
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Oakland rookie Paul Blackburn, who easily tore through the Toronto lineup during his seven innings of work, allowing just two hits before turning the game over to the bullpen.
The Blue Jays played well in subduing the A's in the opening two games of the series, and Toronto manager John Gibbons was obviously hoping the trend would continue into the third.
Praying might be a more apt way of putting it.
His cellar-dwelling outfit needs to go on some kind of a run over the remaining 61 games if it hopes to mount any sort of a serious challenge for a wildcard playoff berth. "We've painted ourselves in a corner," Gibbons said before his team took the field.
Walks have been problematic for Estrada of late and that was the case again on Wednesday when he issued a two-out free pass to Matt Joyce in the fifth inning in a 0-0 ballgame.
Next up was Marcus Semien and he looped a 3-1 fastball into the Blue Jays bullpen over the left field wall for just his third home run of the season.
The blow lifted the A's in front 2-0.
Estrada was gone by the start of the sixth, his pitch count already up to 100 after being booked for two runs off a commendable three hits over five innings while walking four.
Although he was relieved by the final score, Estrada still had reservations about the way he performed.
"I still don't like the way I'm throwing the ball," he said. "It's not me. I don't walk people. That's the only thing I'm upset about is walks. The home run, it is what it is. That's what happens when you fall behind. It was a 3-1 fastball, so those things are going to happen, but if I stop falling behind so often and walking guys, I wouldn't get hurt so much.
"I do feel like I took a step in the right direction. Things are getting better and they're turning around. But you know, the guys pulled it off, better late than never."
The Blue Jays threatened to open the scoring in their half of the first, placing runners at first and third with one out for Morales, who grounded out into an inning-ending double play for an American League-leading 18th time on the season.
He more than made up for that in the ninth, swatting his 18th dinger of the year to win it.
The ball just carried over the fence and for a moment Morales was not certain that it wasn't going to be caught.
"I wasn't too sure," he said, speaking with the assistance of an interpreter. "I was just trying to put the ball in the air and put a good swing. And [Casilla] made a little mistake and the ball went out."