Toronto and Houston wrapped up their four game series on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park with another low scoring affair. The Blue Jays sent left-hander J.A. Happ to the mound to face Houston righty Mike Fiers. Similar to the other games in this series it would be the starters who dominated. Fiers went six innings, struck out seven, gave up five hits and allowed two runs. He was his own worst enemy in the fifth, as he uncorked two wild pitches that helped lead to the second Blue Jays run. Happ also went six innings, as he gave up four hits and one walk while striking out six batters. He left with a 2-1 lead, in line for his 15th win of the season.
Toronto added on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings off of the Houston bullpen, and the Blue Jays combination of Benoit-Grilli-Osuna shut the door, pitching three scoreless innings to preserve the series win for the Blue Jays. With the win, Toronto moved into a virtual tie for first place in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles, who lost tonight to the Texas Rangers 5-3.
Top Play of the Game By WPA
With the Blue Jays leading 2-0 and Happ having faced one over the minimum through four, the Astros got a lead off double by Evan Gattis to start the fifth. After retiring the next two batters, Tyler White collected his second hit of the game, a run scoring double to cut the lead to 2-1. This increased the win expectancy for Houston by 12.9 percentage points.
Bottom Play of the Game By WPA
In the top of the sixth, with the Jays leading 2-1, the Astros opened the inning with a walk and a single. One out later with runners on the corners, Carlos Correa grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and preserve the lead for Toronto. This lowered the win expectancy for Houston by 20.7 percentage points, and would be the closest the Astros would get to tying the game.
After missing three games due to being hit by a pitch on his hand on Sunday, Troy Tulowitzki returned to the lineup for the finale in Houston. Manager John Gibbons had him bat seventh in the line up to ease him back into action. Tulowitzki hit the ball hard in two of his at bats, showing little effect of the injury he sustained. He went one for four with a single in this one.
Encarnacion Does it Again
Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the ninth to extend the lead for the Blue Jays to 4-1. This was his 30th home run of the season and his fifth consecutive season as a member of the Blue Jays. That is the second longest streak behind Carlos Delgado, who did it for eight consecutive seasons.
Strikeouts Keep Coming
The Blue Jays offense set a new Major League Baseball record with 61 strikeouts in a four game series and have had six straight games with 10 or more strikeouts. This is obviously a huge concern as putting the ball in plays allows for more opportunities for things to happen on the field without always needing a hit. An example of this happened in the first inning, when after a leadoff double by Devon Travis, the Jays were able to score the runner with two outs simply by putting the ball in play.
Toronto will wrap up the road trip with a stop in Kansas City on the weekend. The Blue Jays come into the series having won three series’ in a row, while the Royals have lost 10 of their last 13 games. Game one will feature new Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.46 ERA), acquired at the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates, against right-hander Dillon Gee (3-5., 4.66 ERA), who is making a spot start for the Royals. First pitch is at 8:15 PM ET/7:15 PM CT.
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