Jays wins second-straight
TORONTO—When Blue Jays’ starter Brandon Morrow is on his game, his stuff can be electric and often will leave opposing hitters handcuffed.
He displayed that dominant form in a solid six-inning performance last night as Toronto beat the Houston Astros 7-3 at Rogers Centre.
The veteran right-hander was hitting the high 90s with his fastball and retired the first nine batters in order—fanning six along the way.
“He was throwing the crap out of the ball . . . he was using all of his pitches really [well] and he gave us a real shot to win the game,” said Toronto catcher Dioner Navarro.
The Jays staked Morrow to an early two-run lead and gave him a 5-0 cushion after five innings.
The Astros battled back with three runs in the sixth before Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C. provided some insurance with a two-run shot an inning later for his first homer of the season.
“They stung us there and battled back and got within reaching distance there, so it was good to put us back on top and put it out of reach later in the game,” Lawrie said.
Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis, and Navarro had two hits apiece as Toronto outhit the Astros 10-6.
Morrow (1-1) struck out the side in the first inning.
The Astros didn’t put a man on base until the fourth, when lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler walked and moved to third on Jason Castro’s one-out single.
That didn’t faze Morrow—he struck out clean-up man Jose Altuve and then fanned Chris Carter to get out of the jam.
“He was throwing a lot of split-fingers and sliders, and we were kind of fishing at them,” said Astros’ outfielder Alex Presley.
Morrow allowed five hits and three earned runs in his first quality start since last May 5.
It was the first time he had struck out at least nine batters in a game since an 11-strikeout performance against the Minnesota Twins back on Oct. 3, 2012.
“I thought he was very aggressive tonight and he had that look about him, too,” noted Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
“I mean he was confident, but that’s what he’s capable of doing . . . it’s something to build off of.”
Toronto’s timely hitting and some poor defensive play by the Astros helped the Jays score three runs in the fifth. Cabrera singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Izturis.
Jose Bautista then walked and the runners advanced when Edwin Encarnacion grounded out weakly to the first-base side.
After Adam Lind was walked intentionally to load the bases, Navarro hit a tailor-made double play ball to Matt Dominguez but the third baseman made an errant throw that allowed two runs to score.
The Astros did all of their damage in the sixth inning. Fowler singled to centre and Presley followed with a two-run homer to deep right-centre field.
Altuve later tripled and scored when Carter grounded out.
Triple-A call-up Neil Wagner came on in the seventh inning and retired the Astros in order.
Lawrie then turned on a 2-1 pitch from Josh Zeid, who had relieved Williams after he left the game due to a right groin strain.
Toronto reliever Steve Delabar recorded one out in the ninth before taking a liner off his lower right leg.
He limped off the field and was replaced by Esmil Rogers, who got the final two outs.
Elsewhere in the AL, Oakland beat Minnesota 7-4 (11 innings), Kansas City dumped Tampa Bay 7-3, Boston doubled Texas 4-2, Baltimore edged the N.Y. Yankees 5-4, and L.A. blanked Seattle 2-0.