Astros hoping to turn luck around against Blue Jays
Well, at least right fielder George Springer did. Already mired in a miserable slump dating back one month, Springer had a potential game-tying, three-run home run snagged by Toronto right fielder Randal Grichuk with no outs in the ninth inning of the Astros’ 6-3 loss. Grichuk shifted from center field to right in the ninth to make way for standout defender Kevin Pillar.
Instead of pulling the Astros even at 6-all, Springer finished 0-for-5 with a strikeout and three runners stranded. He entered the series with a .196/.322/.353 slash line since May 26, the first game after he improved his OPS to .894 with a robust .305/.367/.527 line through 50 games.
“It sucks,” Springer said. “There’s not really anything else to say about it. It’s tough. It is what it is. They win.”
Despite opening Monday tied with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for the best record in the majors, the Astros (52-28) have been a bit unlucky in close, low-scoring games. While their pitching staff has performed splendidly in the first half of the season, the Astros are just 8-14 in one-run games and dropped to 7-19 when scoring three or fewer runs. Houston has run roughshod over opponents on the road, but the loss to Toronto dropped the Astros to a modest 23-17 at home.
“Baseball can be pretty cruel,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s a tough one. Right off the bat, I thought George got one. It carried and carried and carried and looked like he (Grichuk) had to go pretty deep into the stands to get it. George delivered a great swing. Cruel sport.”
Right-hander Charlie Morton (9-1, 2.74 ERA) will start on Tuesday for the Astros. Morton is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA over two career starts against the Blue Jays, with both coming last season. He has scuffled in June, going 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA while issuing 15 walks and posting six hit batsmen over 21 innings.
Toronto (37-41) will counter with left-hander Ryan Borucki, who will make his major league debut. The Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect, Borucki made the climb from Class A Dunedin to Triple-A Buffalo over the past two seasons. He was 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA over 13 starts with the Bison, recording 58 strikeouts in 77 innings. Borucki was scratched from his start on Sunday.
Selected by Toronto in the 15th round of the 2012 draft, Borucki missed the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. He slowly reclaimed his strength, logging 135 2/3 innings in 2016 and a career-high 150 1/3 innings last season. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons coyly refused to confirm published reports that Borucki would make his debut, but the secret is out.
“We’ll have the young kid going (Tuesday) so hopefully he gives us some innings,” Gibbons said in response to concerns over his fatigued bullpen. “Nice way to debut.”
When pressed that he accidentally revealed his hand, Gibbons quipped, “You don’t know what young kid. Could be one of three or four of them.”