Astros-Blue Jays preview
TORONTO — Pitching was dominant when the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros played a four-game series at Minute Maid Park last week.
The Blue Jays won the series 3-1 by an aggregate score of 10-5.
The teams open a three-game series at Rogers Centre on Friday with indications that the hitters could be slightly more effective.
The Astros are coming off a doubleheader sweep of the Minnesota Twins on Thursday in which they won 15-7 and 10-2, and had 35 hits combined in the two games. The 25 runs matched the total from their previous 11 games.
“It's been crazy, feast or famine right now for us,” said catcher Evan Gattis, who homered and had four RBIs in the second game.
After dropping the first game of the series to the Twins, the Astros won the next three and are 43-27 since May 22. Carlos Correa has homered in three straight games and Jose Altuve was 5-for-8 in the doubleheader.
“We had one continual day of offense that didn't stop,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It was a fun day; a long day, pretty exhausting, but to walk out of here with two wins after being down by a lot of runs in the rain is a pretty good feeling.”
The Twins led 5-0 in the third Wednesday before the game was called because of rain, forcing a doubleheader Thursday.
The Blue Jays went 4-3 on a trip to Houston and Kansas City despite being outscored 19-17.
Their offense also showed signs of revival as they won two of three games from the Tampa Bay Rays, winning 7-5 and 7-0 with a 9-2 loss in between upon their return home.
“You get in those ruts where you are having trouble scoring runs,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “People don't want to hear it, but that's baseball. If you have been around baseball awhile, you see that. You battle your way through it.”
Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run homer in the first inning of the Blue Jays' win Wednesday to snap a club-record string of 17 straight solo home runs. They had not homered with a runner in scoring position since July 20, an 18-game span.
The Astros will be without closer Ken Giles for the series. He is taking paternity leave and was preparing to return to Houston to be with his wife, who is expecting their first child.
Luke Gregerson is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list Friday to take Giles' spot in the bullpen.
The Astros start rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove (0-0, 0.79 ERA) against Toronto left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.34) in the opener.
Musgrove made a superb major league debut against the Blue Jays on Aug. 2 when he took over from starter Lance McCullers, who was forced from the game with an elbow injury. The 23-year-old struck out eight and allowed one hit and one walk in 4 1/3 innings in a game the Blue Jays won 2-1.
He made his first major league start five days later, allowing five hits and one run while striking out six in seven innings.
Liriano makes his second start for the Blue Jays since he was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He did not factor in the decision in the Blue Jays' 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals last Friday. He allowed seven hits, two walks and three runs (two earned) while striking out five over six innings.