Series Sum-Up: Astros vs. Blue Jays

 Marcus Stroman allowed just one run in seven innings to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros on July 8 at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Marcus Stroman allowed just one run in seven innings to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros on July 8 at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

Game 1: Thursday, July 6
JAYS WIN!! 7-4
Winning Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Save: Roberto Osuna

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single, but two strikeouts stranded them. Marwin Gonzalez hit a leadoff home run in the 2nd to put the Astros up 1-0. Alex Bregman singled and stole a base, but was stranded when Russell Martin made an impressive play on a swinging bunt to end the inning. Martin then threw out Jose Altuve stealing for the second out of the 3rd. Josh Donaldson hit into an inning-ending double play in the bottom half. Donaldson immediately redeemed himself by robbing Gonzalez of extra bases and firing a perfect throw across to first from his knees for the out.

Steve Pearce plated the first Blue Jays run with a single after Kendrys Morales reached on an error, and advanced on a wild pitch and a ground out. Kevin Pillar hit a ground-rule double that confused the Houston outfielders, but he and Pearce were stranded. After a Bregman double which Pearce fumbled, George Springer hit a looping single that Pillar dove for but missed, and a shallow fly ball from Altuve scored Bregman. The Jays took the lead in the bottom of the 5th with back-to-back singles to Bautista and Martin. Both of them moved up on a passed ball, and Donaldson singled to score both. Donaldson, in turn, scored on a Morales double off the wall in right field.

Troy Tulowitzki then plated Morales when he singled to snap an 0-for-22 streak with men in scoring position. Pearce walked, and Pillar reached on a fielding error, loading the bases. Ryan Goins doubled to bring in a run, but Pearce was thrown out at home. Lance McCullers Jr. was charged with five earned runs (and one unearned) on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.

In the 6th, Gonzalez was ejected from the game after arguing a strikeout with the home plate umpire. Tulowitzki then bobbled a ball, allowing Brian McCann to reach, but the next hitter grounded into a double play. Martin led off the bottom half with a home run. Liriano left the game to a standing ovation after a Bregman leadoff double in the 7th. Ryan Tepera inherited the runner and allowed him to score on a two-out single. Tepera also allowed a leadoff home run to Carlos Beltran in the 8th, but Dominic Leone stranded a pair and Roberto Osuna only needed nine pitches for the save. All nine Blue Jays starters had a hit in the game; they finished with thirteen total.

Game 2: Friday, July 7
Jays lose, 2-12
Losing Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez

After Aaron Sanchez allowed a two-run home run to Carlos Correa in the 1st, and a three-run homer to George Springer in the 2nd, he walked two. Then Ryan Goins was charged with an error on a ground ball which Troy Tulowitzki fielded and threw to the bag – but Goins wasn’t on the base, expecting Tulowitzki to take the ball there himself and turn the DP. Another run scored on a ground out, and another on a chopping ball that bounced off the turf and away from Goins. Evan Gattis doubled to drive in another run and Sanchez’s night was over. He’d allowed eight runs – five earned – on seven hits and four walks.

Steve Pearce was thrown out trying to advance to second after singling on a fly ball into shallow right field. Mike Bolsinger allowed a run on three singles in the 3rd, then another in the 5th on a double and a sac fly. The Jays got on the board with a Tulowitzki home run, making it 10-1. In the 7th, Bolsinger allowed two solo homers – one to Gattis, and one to Springer. He was replaced with Jeff Beliveau to start the 8th, and Beliveau was the only Toronto pitcher not to allow a run. Ezequiel Carrera also hit a pinch-hit homer in the 9th for the other Blue Jays run. Toronto had six hits and took two walks.

Game 3: Saturday, July 8
JAYS WIN!!!!! 7-2
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman

The Jays turned double plays in each of the first 3 innings – a strike-em-out, throw-em-out in the 1st, a ground ball double play in the 2nd, and one which began on a line out to third in the 3rd. Prior to Donaldson leaping into the air to start off the DP, Houston had scored the first run of the game on a walk and a George Springer double.

Another double play led to Stroman erasing a single in the 5th. Toronto took the lead in the bottom of that inning when Jose Bautista was hit with a pitch with one out, Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer. Stroman struck out the side in the 6th, then finished the game at 109 pitches after the 7th. Martin singled again that inning, and Donaldson walked before Justin Smoak hit a double to center field, cashing in Martin. Two batters later, Troy Tulowitzki hit another 3-run bomb to double Toronto’s lead.

Danny Barnes set down the side in order in the 8th, and Joe Biagini entered from the bullpen for the 9th. Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-out solo home run, scoring the Astros’ second and final run.

Game 4: Sunday, July 9th
Jays lose, 1-19
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ

J.A. Happ was lucky in the 1st inning, getting a double play to erase a single, then stranding a pair. But in the 2nd, things began to go south. Yuli Gurriel homered with one out, then Alex Bregman doubled, and Josh Donaldson fielded a ball which would have been the third out but he airmailed Justin Smoak at first base and that allowed Bregman to score. Jose Altuve hit a two-run homer, and Carlos Correa followed him with another solo shot. Five Astros had crossed the plate before the inning ended.

Donaldson was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double in the 3rd. That call was the result of a replay review to overturn the call on the field – had he been safe, there would have been two Blue Jays in scoring position with two outs. Correa then drove in another run in the 4th. The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out on a trio of walks in the bottom half, but two pop-ups left them that way. Happ only went 4 innings, having allowed six runs (two earned) on seven hits.

Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer off Lucas Harrell in the 6th, then Aaron Loup faced four batters in the 7th and didn’t record an out – he hit one batter, one reached on a Donaldson error, and then Jake Marisnick hit an RBI double and Norichika Aoki hit an RBI single. Ryan Tepera came in, and allowed an RBI single and a three-run Correa homer, making it 15-0 for Houston. The damage didn’t end there, because Joe Biagini started the 9th with two walks, a double, a single. After an out, then a wild pitch, which brought in the fourth run of the inning. There were some fielding mishaps in there for good measure.

With two outs in the last inning, down nineteen runs (which would have been the worst shutout loss in team history had that score held), Ezequiel Carrera hit a home run – his seventh of the year, and second of the series – to right field to put the Blue Jays on the board. The remaining fraction of the 46,622 in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

Overall Notes:

If you’d told me before this series that the Jays would take two of four against the best team in the American League, I’d have been thrilled. But the two blowout losses were still rather demoralizing.

Relief pitcher Dominic Leone was optioned back to the Bisons on the July 7 as Aaron Sanchez was activated off the disabled list. Leone had been with the major-league club since June 6 and had appeared in thirteen games and allowed two runs in 15 innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.95 during that time. J.P. Howell has also been sent to the Bisons, on a rehab assignment. Howell was put on the DL on June 5 with left shoulder tightness.

It was announced on Friday that Roberto Osuna would be joining Justin Smoak at the All-Star game in Miami. Osuna was named to the AL squad as a replacement.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

·         Roberto Osuna is now tied for the 4th-most consecutive saves in team history with 21.

·         Osuna is the youngest player in Blue Jays history to be selected to play in the All-Star Game.

·         Josh Donaldson hit his 150th career home run in Saturday’s game.

My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Stroman/Martin/Tulowitzki

Marcus Stroman picked up his ninth win of the season with a one-run start of seven innings, with six hits and three walks allowed, plus six strikeouts. He continued his trend of ground-ball outs, making seven outs that way compared to two in the air.

Russell Martin was 6-for-12 in this series, with a walk and a home run. He also scored four times. Over the three games he played in this series, he raised his batting average by eighteen points.

Troy Tulowitzki was 5-for-14 with two home runs and five RBI. He’d been in a bit of a slump with runners on base before this series – his last RBI (other than solo home runs) was back in the Kansas City series on June 25. It was nice to see him snap out of that and put the bat on the ball. He had a five-game hit streak (and hits in eight of his last nine games) before going hitless on Sunday. 

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