Astros dominate Blue Jays
HOUSTON - Entering the night with a 15-game lead over Seattle in the American League West ensured the Astros weren’t going to worry much about a three-game losing streak they brought with them.
In fact with the Blue Jays as the guests, we’re guessing one of the best teams in baseball couldn’t wait to get to Minute Maid Park to feast on what was essentially an unarmed opponent.
The result was as predictable as it was familiar, a dominating 16-7 demolition for the Astros in the opener of a three-game weekend series here in steamy Texas.
When the Astros are determined to send the Jays into orbit this season, they do so with authority. Friday’s beat down was just the most recent, adding to 12-2 and 19-1 routs at the Rogers Centre just prior to the all star break.
How dominating are they? In their three victories over the Jays this season, they’ve put up a combined 46 runs.
So given the Jays were sending out starting pitcher Cesar Valdez and given the troubles they’ve had with the Astros order already, this one figured to be a mismatch. And it certainly was that.
The Astros busted it loose in a big way with a nine-run fourth inning, taking it to a trio of Toronto pitchers with a nine-run outburst. In total, Houston sent no less than batters to the plate and the swagger that has carried them to a 70-39 record had returned.
The loss certainly exposed the Jays pitching situation. In making his third start following four relief outings, Valdez had another rocky outing. In his previous start on July 30, Valdez lasted just two innings and gave up seven runs against the Angels. On Friday, he lasted 3.1 innings but the damage was almost as severe. The waiver wire pickup from the A’s earlier this season gave up six hits and six earned runs to set the tone for a long, ugly night.
ARMED AND UNSTEADY
Valdez certainly had company in that humiliating nine-run fourth inning, the most the Jays had allowed in one frame since the first inning of a game at Tampa on Oct. 4, 2015.
The starter was followed briefly by Matt Dermody who got one out but allowed two runs. The worst was saved for last, however, as Mike Bolsinger allowed four hits and walked four more in giving up for more runs.
As if the nine-spot wasn’t bad enough, it was mere feet away from being worse. Alex Bregman just missed what would have been his second home run of the inning and it would have been a grand slam.
Give the Jays credit for this, at least - they didn’t lay down and surrender offensively despite the 12-2 hole.
Russell Martin needed a video review to turn a double into a solo home run in the fifth and then the Jays added four more in the sixth, the big blow being a three-run homer from Ryan Goins to cut the lead to 12-7.
The Astros weren’t done, however, adding two more in the bottom of the sixth plus solo runs in the seventh and eighth to add to the blowout final score.
THE OTHER GURRIEL
The Astros didn’t waste any time getting an early jump and they did it with the big brother of one of the Jays hottest young prospects. Yuli Gurriel, the Astros 33-yearold rookie, took a Valdez offering 400-feet to deep centre in the bottom of the first to stake his team to a 2-0 lead.
Gurriel and his 22-year-old brother, Lourdes Jr. defected from Cuba in February and the Jays can only hope that their haul can have similar results.
The oldest active rookie in the league, Gurriel was voted the AL rookie of the month for July, the first time Yankees sensation Aaron Judge didn’t capture the honour. Friday’s blast was his 14th homer of the season an boosted his RBI total to 56. Gurriel added to that total in the third with a single to increase the Astros lead to 3-0 and in the seventh belted out his 30th double of the season.
As for Lourdes Jr.? He’s batting .258 with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Jays Double A affiliate.
Minute Maid Park has been far from friendly for the Jays, who now have a 13-6 record here … The starting effort from Valdez ended a stretch of three consecutive outings in which Jays starter had gone seven plus innings… How bad was the disastrous fourth? Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann each scored twice in the inning … An early (and rare) highlight for the Jays was Kendrys Morales belting out his 21st homer of the season to make the score 3-2 in the top of the fourth. The 410-foot shot to right-centre gives the big DH a reasonable shot of surpassing the 30 he hit last season … With a record of 70-39, the Astros moved to 31 games above .500, the most in franchise history … With the game well out of reach, Jays manager John Gibbons allowed two players to make their Blue Jays debuts in the bottom of the eighth - catcher Rafael Lopez and in right field, Nori Aoki. The latter received a nice ovation from the crowd in his return to Houston after being dealt to the Jays for pitcher Francisco Liriano on Monday. When he came to the plate in the ninth, Aoki tipped his batting helmet and received a standing ovation.
Houston Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, left, looks to second base umpire Rob Drake for the call after Toronto Blue Jays’ Ezequiel Carrera stole second during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Friday, in Houston.