Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Hot-hitting Astros pursue another win at Toronto

Field Level Media
06 Jun 2023, 21:05 GMT+10

The visiting Houston Astros will try to continue their hot hitting on Tuesday night in the second game of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Astros won the opener 11-4 on Monday while pounding out a season-best 19 hits. It was their third win in four games this season against the Blue Jays.

Corey Julks hit his first career grand slam in Houston's six-run first inning. Toronto starter Alek Manoah continued his season-long struggles by allowing six runs in one-third of an inning before he was replaced. The Blue Jays used six relievers, which could be a factor as the series progresses.

Toronto manager John Schneider still feels Manoah will make his next scheduled start despite having the shortest outing of his career on Monday. Manoah is 1-7 with a 6.36 ERA this season after going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA last year.

"As of now, we're not sitting here making plans for anything but doing everything we can do for him," Schneider said. "(It) means using the staff and using his teammates to help him through it.

"When I say that everything is on the table, yeah, everything is. We're just trying to help him get back to the caliber of pitcher that he was."

In contrast, Astros starter Brandon Bielak tied his career high with 6 2/3 innings pitched on Monday.

"Bielak took us deep into the game," Houston manager Dusty Baker said. "We were trying to get him into the seventh, so we didn't have to go through too much of our bullpen."

The Astros played their third straight game without injured second baseman Jose Altuve (oblique).

The Blue Jays, who had a four-game winning streak end on Monday, figure to get better starting pitching on Tuesday. Right-hander Kevin Gausman (4-3, 2.76 ERA) is scheduled to get the assignment.

In six career starts against the Astros, Gausman is 2-4 with a 5.77 ERA. He struggled at Houston on April 17, when he allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 4 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Hunter Brown (5-2, 3.61) is scheduled to start for the Astros. Brown will oppose Toronto for the first time in his two-year career.

The Astros, who have won eight of their past 11 games, got four hits each from Yainer Diaz (including two doubles) and Jake Meyers (including a two-run homer) on Monday. Diaz has hit safely in four straight games, batting .571 (8-for-14) with three doubles, two home runs and three RBIs in that span.

Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker added solo homers. Alex Bregman singled to extend his hit streak to 12 games.

Before the game on Monday, the Astros selected the contract of infielder Grae Kessinger from Sugar Land and optioned third catcher Cesar Salazar to the Triple-A club. Right-hander Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) was moved to the 60-day injured list to make room for Kessinger on the 40-man roster.

Kessinger has yet to make his major league debut. He was batting .284 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 32 RBIs in 52 games with Sugar Land. In 26 games during May, he hit .323 (32-for-99) with four home runs, 21 RBIs and a .924 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The Astros are playing a stretch of 17 games without a day off, and Kessinger should provide flexibility, as he can man all four infield positions.

"During this 17 in a row, we're going to have to give different guys on the infield days off," Baker said. "Plus, (Kessinger) was doing pretty well, too. It just gives us some more depth."

--Field Level Media

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