Instant Reaction: Blue Jays fell to Houston 3-1 on Canada Day despite Yariel Rodríguez’s outstanding performance

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton - USA Today
Evan Stack
15 days ago
The annual Canada Day baseball game is one of the most exciting times during the Blue Jays season, but unfortunately, the celebration and festivities of the day couldn’t guide Toronto to victory.
Home runs from Yordan Álvarez and Jeremy Peña spearheaded a 3-1 win for the Astros, as an 0-for-6 showing with RISP was a massive reason to Toronto’s defeat. The Blue Jays have a 1-3 record against the Astros this year, and they’ve been outscored 22-3 in those games. Toronto is eight games under .500 for the second time this year, and are now an even eight games back of a Wild Card spot.

Things worth mentioning

The Blue Jays were without Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, two of their best hitters, for this afternoon’s game. Guerrero Jr. was still experiencing come discomfort with his pinky and ring fingers after being hit on the hand during yesterday’s game against New York. X-Rays came back negative and the Jays even penciled Guerrero Jr. into the lineup, but he was eventually scratched prior to first pitch.
Kiner-Falefa was scratched from the lineup with a left knee injury just a matter of minutes before the start of the game. Even Buck Martinez, who caught the ceremonial first pitch of today’s game, said he didn’t notice anything awry with Kiner-Falefa in the dugout prior to the game.
Not only was it his longest outing as a Blue Jay, but it was definitely the best outing of Yariel Rodríguez’ young MLB career. The Cuban righty retired his first fourteen batters of the game en route to allowing only one run and two hits through 6.2 innings. He struck out six and walked two, but his biggest mistake of the game was hanging a curveball to Jeremy Peña with two outs in the fifth inning. Peña timed his swing perfectly, driving the ball 382 feet and into the Blue Jays bullpen to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
As I mentioned at the top, Toronto missed multiple offensive opportunities to win this game, even with Guerrero Jr. and Kiner-Falefa out of the lineup. The Blue Jays had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning thanks to George Springer’s single and a pair of walks, but an Ernie Clement pop out and a Kevin Kiermaier strikeout would end the threat.
An Addison Barger walk, Spencer Horwitz double, and Justin Turner HBP loaded the bases in the bottom of the 8th with one out, but Springer and Daulton Varsho went lineout-groundout to bail Houston out.
Yordan Álvarez provided Houston some much needed insurance in the top of the 9th, sending a Zach Pop sinker just into the left centre field seats, and Houston took a 3-0 lead. That home run would prove to be the difference, as Clement hit his career-high fourth home run of the season with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. Four home runs now marks a career high for Clement, who’s previous high was three back in 2021 with the Guardians.
Hunter Brown was very effective for the Astros, tossing six innings and allowing two hits, no runs, three walks, and five strikeouts. It was Brown’s eighth consecutive start allowing three runs or less, and his ERA is the lowest it has been since March 30th.
What’s Next: José Berríos gets the nod tomorrow evening as Toronto will look to even the series against Spencer Arrighetti. Berríos pitched six innings of one-run ball back in April against the Astros, with a home run from José Altuve being the only run he allowed.

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