Blue Jays clinch season series over Astros with 3-2 win
Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack3 months ago
A red-hot month of June continues for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays defeated the Astros 3-2 tonight, taking their June record to 7-1. The win also solidifies the season series over Houston, something that could really make an impact if these two are neck-and-neck in the Wild Card race come September. At the time of writing this article, the Yankees appear to be taking care of business in the second leg of their double-header, so this win would keep Toronto only one game back of New York in the AL East standings, and only a half-game back of a playoff spot.
This series win was a statement for sure. After getting smoked in the series opener, this ball club regrouped and took care of business to secure their fourth straight series win.
Blue Jays Nation’s Player of the Game: Brandon Belt
Belt has been very good over the past couple of months, but he’s also come through with some timely hits as well. Last Sunday against the Mets and last night against these Astros included some clutch home runs from the veteran, and although it wasn’t a home run, he had another clutch hit tonight. On a 1-for-4 night, Belt’s RBI single capped off a three-run fifth inning which would turn out to be the game-winning run. It was nearly a two-run single, but Alejandro Kirk was thrown out at home.
Things worth mentioning
It was bound to be a tall task to secure a win tonight, as the Blue Jays were facing Framber Valdez, one of the game’s most established pitchers and a quality start king. Valdez looked very sharp through the first four innings, with his curveball having some nasty movement and depth. The Jays were able to create a prime scoring opportunity in the 2nd inning by loading the bases with two outs, but George Springer grounded out to end the inning.
Valdez was great until he hit the 5th inning. He threw 32 pitches in that frame walking three batters, allowing two hits, and three runners to come in to score. Whether the called balls were close or definite, it had Valdez well out of the composed state he was in through the first few innings. Toronto chased Valdez after five innings, and it was only the third time this season that Valdez didn’t pitch at least six.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out to start the 5th inning, and Matt Chapman would drive in the first run of the game with an RBI fielder’s choice. Then came some massive two-out RBIs. Alejandro Kirk hit a ground-rule double to tie the game on a ball that would have stayed in the yard with last year’s walls. Belt drove in the tie-breaking run, and Toronto kept the lead for the rest of the game.
Jose Berrios pitched his fourth quality start in his last five outings tonight, going six innings and allowing four hits, two runs, two walks, and two strikeouts. Of that stat line, three of those hits, one of those walks, and both of the runs occurred in the 2nd inning. Berrios hung a slurve to Alex Bregman, and Bregman smoked it to the seats in left. He loaded the bases after that, but only allowed one other run to come into score. Outside of that inning, Berrios was very effective.
Yimi Garcia, Erik Swanson, and Jordan Romano pitched scoreless innings, but the former two had tremendous help from their defence. Garcia had runners on first and second with no one out, but Kirk was able to catch Jose Abreu in between second and third, and the Jays were able to eliminate the lead runner. For Swanson, he fielded a ground ball from Jeremy Pena and had plenty of time to throw him out at first. Unfortunately, Swanson’s throw took Vladimir Guerrero Jr. off the bag. Pena was not hustling once he saw Swanson field the ball, so Guerrero was able to recover and tag the bag to record the out.
A pair of batters left tonight’s game with injuries, one on each side. Kevin Kiermaier was hit by a pitch on his left wrist in the 2nd inning, and he left the game right after the inning ended. He received X-rays on the wrist which came back negative. On Houston’s side, Yordan Alvarez exited the game after the 2nd inning as well due to right oblique discomfort.
What’s next: Toronto will face the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins this weekend with Yusei Kikuchi kicking things off tomorrow night. He will be faced by an early Cy Young candidate in Sonny Gray.
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