I was nervous about this one, to be honest. Although Chris Bassitt has been trending up, he hasn’t looked great yet and the Astros lineup is scary. So is ours, but it hasn’t seemed like it the last couple games. As it turned out, though, it was a pretty calm affair, with the Jays bulding a lead in the middle innings and the Astros only threatening briefly in the 8th due to some questionable fielding.
Chris Bassitt continues to improve start over start. Tonight he was dominant, perfect through three and ultimately working six and a third innings and conceding just three hits and a walk. He struck out five Astros, and allowed almost no solid contact all night. If Kyle Tucker hadn’t beaten out a really close double play attempt and Santiago Espinal hadn’t made an error on a Jeremy Pena grounder immediately afterwards, he would have gone seven shutout. As it is, he brought his season ERA down by 2.23 runs to 5.40. One more start like this and he’ll look flat out respectable.
He had a little help from his defence. Matt Chapman made an amazing diving catch on a sinking Jake Meyers liner for the third out in the fifth, and Whit Merrifield ran down a Jordan Alvarez fly down the line that would have scored a run in the sixth.
Yimi Garcia came in following Espinal’s error, and was able to strike out Corey Julks and get a Meyers ground out to escape the seventh.
On the other side, the Jays struggled with Jose Urquidy the first time through. A Bo Bichette caught stealing in the first didn’t help, as between that and a double play Urquidy escaped the third having faced one over the minimum in spite of allowing two hits and a walk. They figured it out in the fourth, though, with a pair of solo homers from Vlad Guerrero jr. and Matt Chapman putting them up 2-0.
They added on in the fifth. Brandon Belt worked a nice 8 pitch walk, Whit Merrifield singled with the help of a hit and run (why it was on on an 0-2 with Belt running I can’t say, but it worked), and Santiago Espinal and Bichette hit ground ball singles to bring them home, making it 4-0. That was the end of Urquidy’s night, and Bryan Abreu came on to face Guerrero, who flew out to advance Espinal to 3rd. The Jays could have pushed the lead more more, but Jose Abreu made an incredible diving stop on a Daulton Varsho one hopper that otherwise would have hooked around the first base bag for an easy double and probably two more runs.
In the sixth, Chapman lead off with a double lined off the Crawford Boxes, but they weren’t able to cash him in. From there, Hector Neris, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly shut the offence down completely.
Garcia came back to start the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Martin Maldonado, but Mauricio Dubon reached on a ground ball single when Bichette double clutched on the throw and Alex Bregman reached on a Matt Chapman error. Schneider called for Tim Mayza with lefties Alvarez and Tucker up and in the hole. It proved to be a mistake, as Alvarez lined a single to bring in Dubon and make it 4-1, and following an Abreu fly out that advanced Bregman to 3rd, Tucker added another single to score him.
Jordan Romano was called on to work out of the jam, Jeremy Pena at the plate representing the go ahead run. Romano was as cool as he has been all year, getting Pena to fly out and adding two Ks and a weak tapper that he fielded himself in the ninth to complete the four out save.
Jays of the Day: Bassitt (0.246), Romano (0.166), Chapman (0.119), and Merrifield (0.094, rounded up for a big catch)
Suckage: Springer (-0.110) looks pretty lost lately, and Mayza (-0.080) gets one for getting zero of two lefties and needing a Romano bail out
Game 3 is at 8:10pm ET tomorrow night. Jose Berrios (1-2, 7.98) and Luis Garcia (0-2, 7.71) will try to improve on rough starts, and give their teams a chance to win this important early series.