Blue Jays bats can’t come through for José Berríos as Astros take series finale with 8-1 win
Photo credit:Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack7 months ago
To say this game was not very exciting most of the way would be an understatement, but Houston flashed their bats when it mattered. The Astros scored six runs in the 8th inning after a mini-rally by the Blue Jays, putting them in a position to win the series with an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night.
Jose Berrios had a great night on the mound, and while he didn’t pitch in the 8th at all, he would, unfortunately, be tagged with the loss. I’ll dive into that shortly, but a critical difference between the two teams was that Houston came through with the bases loaded when Toronto couldn’t. Let’s see how this frustrating night came to be.
Blue Jays Nation’s Player of the Game: Jose Berrios
While he wasn’t blowing anyone away with strikeouts, Berrios worked as quickly and as effectively as possible. He had six innings with 13 or less pitches thrown, and only threw 77 pitches through 7 innings. Berrios only allowed two earned runs on the night, and they were runs in which Berrios had really shot himself in the foot giving up. After retiring the first two batters in the second inning, Berrios hit Jeremy Pena with a slurve and walked David Hensley. Jake Meyers, the number 8 batter in Houston’s order, followed that up with a double that scored both runners. Especially with those guys being in the bottom of the order and there being two outs, that inning could’ve looked a lot different had he not hit Pena.
After that, it was the definition of smooth sailing for Berrios. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 3 K’s. Only two batted balls were hit over 100 mph off the bat against him, as he allowed several soft ground ball and fly ball outs. Another positive was that he limited Jose Abreu to a 1-for-3 night. Abreu came into tonight 16-for-55 in his career against Berrios with three home runs and 14 RBIs, and his hit tonight against him was a soft single hit 70.9 mph off the bat.
His first two starts versus his previous two starts look like night and day; Berrios gave up 15 hits and 12 earned runs over his first two outings, but has only allowed 7 hits and 3 runs over his last two. This rotation looks so much differently with Berrios being as good as he’s been. His outing tonight was not only beneficial to his statistics and surely his confidence, but it also ensures the bullpen will be plenty rested for this weekend’s series in New York (not to mention that Toronto is off tomorrow).
Things worth mentioning
Luis Garcia couldn’t be figured out: Garcia threw seven innings tonight, but he struck out nine batters while only allowing two hits and a walk. While the nine strikeouts don’t sound earth-shattering, Garcia had struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced, and appeared well on his way to double-digit K’s. It’s worth noting that one of those strikeouts was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. striking out on a pitch clock violation, something we’ve rarely seen this year from Blue Jays’ hitters. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and generated 23 whiffs out of 50 swings (19 of those whiffs were on the cutter).
It was certainly a turn of the page for Garcia, who came into tonight’s game with a 7.71 ERA.
The Blue Jays rally: Garcia was pulled for Rafael Montero, one of Houston’s most trusted relievers. Immediately, the Jays flipped the switch, starting with an Alejandro Kirk single to lead off the 8th inning. Santiago Espinal was brought into the game as a pinch runner, which proved effective as Whit Merrifield’s RBI double was able to score him from first. Kevin Kiermaier and Nathan Lukes both walked to load the bases, which set up an ideal situation with the top of the order coming up and no one out.
Unfortunately, George Springer lined out to Alex Bregman at third, Bo Bichette struck out, and Guerrero Jr. flew out to center field after a nine-pitch battle with Bryan Abreu to strand the bases loaded.
Unraveling in the bottom of the 8th: Zach Pop, who has been money out of the bullpen this season, had his worst outing thus far, as he loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 8th. Pop failed to get out of the jam, as Abreu slapped a two-run single to left field that scored two runs and extended the lead. Adam Cimber relieved Pop, and he promptly allowed an RBI single from Kyle Tucker and a 3-run home run from Pena, putting the game out of reach.
Like I mentioned earlier, an underlying story of this game was the ability to hit with the bases loaded, and it led to a big inning for the Astros.
Whit Merrifield: Merrifield put together a good night at the dish, going 2-for-3 with a single and a double, bumping his average up to .314. Merrifield has reached base in every game he has played this season, and with the struggles of Espinal and Cavan Biggio, he might be playing his way into an everyday role at second base.
Merrifield fell victim to a tough call in the top of the 5th, as he was caught stealing on a close play at second. In live action and upon review, it appeared Merrifield was safe, but the umpires deemed that there was not enough footage to overturn the call.
As previously noted, Toronto has an off day tomorrow and will start a three game set with the Yankees on Friday. Yusei Kikuchi gets the nod against Domingo German with a big chance to make a statement early against an in-division rival.
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