Blue Jays bombs, Marco Estrada too Much for Astros
HOUSTON – The Blue Jays have beaten the Houston Astros in two of three games, with one more left on Thursday.
They have scored a grand total of six runs. Each a one has been a solo home run.
On Wednesday, they hit three of them — two by Josh Donaldson, the other by Jose Bautista — and Marco Estrada made them stand up in a 3-1 victory.
On Tuesday, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion accounted for Toronto’s two home runs in a 2-1 win after Russell Martin’s solo shot accounted for Toronto’s one run in a 2-1, 14-inning loss on Monday.
As scant as the support has been, for the third day in a row, the Jays got a superior pitching performance to make just a few runs go a long way.
Estrada gave up just four hits without issuing a walk and got bullpen help from Joe Biagini and Roberto Osuna to nail it down. The better news is that Estrada appears to have put the worst of his back ailments behind him.
“I think it’s a matter of time,” said Estrada. “Time is allowing it to heal, along with the work the trainers have been doing. It’s getting there. It’s the best I have felt in a while. You can tell by the (velocity). It was back up where it normally is.”
Estrada credited Martin for identifying that the changeup was his best pitch on this night and he kept calling it.
“I just try to follow Russ as much as possible,” said Estrada. “He has an ability to pick up on what is working for me on any given night. Tonight he liked my changeup and we just rode it.”
Donaldson’s first homer of the game, an opposite-field shot to right, gave Toronto a 1-0 lead to start the fourth inning. Two innings after that, Bautista belted his 15th and, a moment later, Donaldson followed suit, once again going opposite field to make it 3-0.
Meanwhile, after giving up a leadoff double to George Springer on his first pitch of the game, Estrada retired 10 men in a row before allowing his second hit, a single to Carlos Correa with two out in the fourth. He then got five more outs before Marwin Gonzalez and Jose Altuve hit back-to-back doubles to cut Toronto’s lead to 3-1.
The Astros nearly capitalized in the eighth inning. Biagini gave up a leadoff double to Jake Marisnick. Springer followed with a ground ball to shortstop Darwin Barney. When Marisnick broke too far off second, Barney tried to get him as he dove back in safely. That allowed Springer to be safe at first. Gonzalez sacrificed both runners along, leaving runners at second and third with just one out. With the Jays about to walk Altuve, Houston’s best hitter and maybe the best hitter in baseball right now, Gibbons popped out of the dugout.
“My first thought, I told Russ: ‘Let’s walk him.’ You know Altuve is going to put it in play,” said Gibbons afterward. “All of a sudden, I had the thought that Correa gets one big hit after another. I said to myself I wasn’t going to put the go-ahead run on and decided to let Biagini try to work out of it.”
Altuve hit a short fly ball to Bautista in right, not deep enough to score Springer. Biagini then ended the threat on a called third strike with Correa at the plate.