Astros 2, Blue Jays 3
It was yet another pitcher’s duel this afternoon. Framber Valdez got the start for the Astros, and was mostly able to keep the Blue Jays’ hitters off him. Although he only struck out two, he produced tons of easy ground balls and carried a no hitter into the sixth. Bichette and Kirk each squared him up once, but both resulted in liners right to short for outs.
Kevin Gausman matched him pitch for pitch through five innings. He struck out ten Astros on the afternoon and other than a Kyle Tucker line drive to centre that required a nice over the shoulder catch by George Springer, he didn’t give up hardly any solid contact.
The scoring finally got started in the sixth inning. Chas McCormick hit a one out triple off the top of the top of the right field wall to set the Astros up. Michael Brantley hit a chopper that could have driven him home, but Bo Bichette made a nice play ranging to his right to grab it, look McCormick back, and still get the out at first. Bo had made an ugly error on a pretty routine grounder earlier in the game, and had looked a little shaken on a couple ground balls since, so it was good to see him make a good play and regain some confiedence. Aledmis Diaz followed with a line drive single to right to plate McCormick, and Yordan Alvarez grounded out to top the scoring at one.
The Jays were able to respond in the bottom of the inning. Bradley Zimmer took one for the team, catching 95 in the ribs to get to first with one out. After a George Springer grounded into a fielder’s choice, Bichette reached about four inches into the opposite batter’s box to chip a fastball just over the wall down the right field line and give the Jays the lead.
The Astros struck back in the seventh. Kyle tucker rolled one softly off the third base bag against the shift to get on, and then Nico Goodrum placed a soft grounder perfectly between Bichette and Espinal that just ticked off the tip of the latter’s glove and into centre, scoring Tucker from first to tie it. Gausman managed to stop the bleeding there and finish the seventh. He finished with two runs on six hits to 10 Ks in 7 innings and honestly deserved even better than that.
Gausman has now struck out 41 without issuing a single walk on the season. He’s still a ways a way from Corbin Burnes’ all time record of 58 strikeouts before walking a batter, but a couple more starts of this calibre and he’ll be right there. He really couldn’t possibly have gotten off to a better start on his five year, 110 million dollar contract.
Lourdes Gurriel jr. lined a single to centre to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Matt Chapman grounded into a fielder’s choice. Alejandro Kirk also hit a soft grounder, but his speed intimidated shortstop Jeremy Pena into rushing the catch and committing an error, which gave the Jays men on first and second. Santiago Espinal slapped a liner to left to score Chapman from there, giving the Jays the 3-2 lead.
That was it for scoring. Phil Maton and Hecor Neris combined for 1.2 innings of uneventful relief for Houston. Tim Mayza worked a pretty easy eighth for Toronto, allowing a ground ball single and recording a strikeout.
There was some drama in the top of the ninth. Jordan Romano, working his second night in a row, got a pop out from Yuli Gurriel to open it, but allowed a crushed double off the right field wall to Kyle Tucker (his third hit of the afternoon) to put the tieing run in scoring position. Alex Bregman pinch hit for Goodrum and fought an intense 10 pitch battle with Romano that ended with a ball scalded to right field. Springer made an amazing diving catch on the track to save the one run lead and record the second out. Romano bounced back, striking out Pena to close it out.
bot 7: Gurriel line single up the middle. Chapman fielder’s choice, Kirk reached on an error. Phil Maton in in relief, Espinal lined a single to left to score Chapman from second to give the Jays a lead. Tapia grounded into a double play to end it.
Jay of the Day: Romano (0.159), Mayza (0.119), Bichette (0.309), Espinal (0.122). Gausman didn’t have the number but absolutely deserves on too, and Vinny Capra earns a nod for making his MLB debut (although he went 0-2 with a K).
Suckage: No one had the number. Vlad (-0.070) was the closest, and looked rough going 0-3
Next up for the Blue Jays is a three game set with the Yankees. Tomorrow night Ross Stripling will be on the bump for Toronto, taking on Luis Severino. First pitch is slated for 7:07 ET.