The Astros traveled north of the border Thursday night to start a 4-game series against the last place Toronto Blue Jays. The Astros crossed into Canada having lost ten of their last twelve games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays were riding a seven game losing streak of their own. Not the most anticipated matchup of the season, this game was for baseball purists only.
As expected, the Astros proved to be the perfect remedy for the Jays’ losing streak, producing only two hits and failing to score against soft tossing lefty Mark Buehrle. Astros hitters complained that the extra defender, allowed only in Canada, made it difficult to find holes in the defense. Bo Porter was quick to point out that the extra defender applied only in Canadian football. Bo knows football.
Ontario native Erik Bedardgot the start for the Astros. It was his first outing since pitching 6 & 1/3 no-hit innings in last week’s loss to the Mariners. Bedard looked right at home, allowing only three hits, one walk, and one run. The Astros’ lefty struck out six and left the game after five innings, having thrown 95 pitches.
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I was somewhat disappointed that the Canadian broadcast missed the first pitch of the inning on more than one occasion. I guess they had to get in a little extra advertising time to make up for the exchange rate of 97 cents per American dollar.
The Toronto announcers were impressed with Bedard and discussed the possibility that the veteran could be traded before next Wednesday’s deadline. They also mentioned that former Blue Jays prospect Asher Wojciechowski could be called up to join the Astros rotation if Bedard or another Astros starter was traded.
But Buehrle was the real story of this game. Buehrle managed to keep Astros hitters off balance with his assortment of off-speed pitches, including his 85 m.p.h. fastball. In defense of the Astros hitters, that translates to a blistering 135 kilometers per hour. When you say it that way it seems like it would be extremely difficult to hit.
Brett Wallace struck out in all three of his plate appearances tonight. If Wallace continues to struggle the team might burn the first-baseman’s passport and leave him in Canada to fend for himself.
Lucas Harrell also had a rough outing. After pitching a scoreless frame in the sixth, Harrell gave up three runs in the seventh. Harrell walked the first two batters of the inning and the ensuing 3-run outburst put the game out of reach.
The best play of the night came from Jose Altuve. The Astros second-baseman ranged far into rightfield to make a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch. Altuve used every bit of his 1.67 meter frame to make the grab.
Perhaps the best thing about the game was the fact that it only took two hours and eighteen minutes to complete. I’m not sure exactly what that translates into in Canadian hours but it was nice to get the loss over with in a hurry.