TORONTO — The Houston Astros have won four straight after dropping six of their seven previous games, and they had an injection of youthful enthusiasm to thank for that in Friday night's 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
A pair or 23-year-olds in right-hander Joe Musgrove and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez played key roles.
Musgrove pitched seven innings for his first major league win and Hernandez hit a home run for his first career major league hit.
Hernandez played center field in his major league debut after being called up from Triple-A Fresno. It would be reasonable to expect that he will be back there Saturday for the second game of the series.
Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick, who has started 26 games in center field this season, is listed as day-to-day after tweaking his right groin during the first game of the doubleheader sweep of Minnesota on Thursday.
“We've got a pretty young group now,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “This is fun to watch these guys come up and break in. (Hernandez) showed incredible poise. That wasn't an easy day for him. He arrived at the ballpark a little under an hour before the game.”
The Astros will send out a more experienced starting pitcher Saturday in right-hander Collin McHugh (7-9, 4.69 ERA), a 29-year-old who will be making his 24th start of the season.
He will be facing 24-year-old Aaron Sanchez (11-2, 2.85 ERA), who took his first loss since April 22 last Saturday in Kansas City.
Sanchez has pitched a career-high 145 1/3 innings this season and, initially, the Blue Jays wanted to put him in the bullpen to control his innings. Instead, they went to a six-man rotation and, with a day off in the schedule Thursday, the right-hander will be pitching on six days' rest against the Astros.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that eventually, Sanchez will be passed over on a scheduled start from time to time as a way to keep his innings in check. Gibbons would not reveal any schedule for that, if there is one.
Sanchez will be making his 23rd start of the season Saturday.
At Kansas City last Saturday, he permitted the Royals nine hits, one walk and four runs in six innings while striking out three.
He had not allowed more than two runs in his previous eight starts, a span in which he went 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA.
Those starts followed a June 12 outing in which he allowed six runs in a 10-9 win over Baltimore. In three career games, including one star, he is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA against the Astros. He has not faced them this season.
McHugh equaled a season-high Monday when he gave up 10 hits against the Minnesota Twins in allowing three runs in seven innings. He walked one and struck out six in taking the loss.
He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his past 10 starts during which he has a 4.03 ERA. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA this season in one start against the Blue Jays this season, allowing three runs in six innings on Aug. 3. He is 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four career starts against Toronto.