Astros dom­i­nate Blue Jays

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - ROB LONGLEY TORONTO SUN

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.

RALLY TIME?

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.

QUICK HITS

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.

ERIC CHRIS­TIAN SMITH/ASSOICATED PRESS

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.

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