Houston picks up biggest win of the year in blowout fashion over Toronto
18 games into the season, who were the Houston Astros? Luis Garcia couldn’t get outs. Alex Bregman wasn’t hitting. Mauricio Dubón turned into Pete Rose. Ryan Pressly looked like Ken Giles. Jose Altuve wasn’t there to lead off. Questions abounded about the team.
Now, many of the questions were likely overstated. There’s a reason they’ve made six straight trips to the ALCS and four of the last six World Series. When the pressure mounts, the Astros rise.
Tied 1-1 in the series with an off-day coming before a showdown with a potential World Series foe in the Atlanta Braves, the Astros picked up their biggest win of the year.
The Luis Garcia of old arrived, picking up his first win of the season. Garcia tied a career high with 9 strikeouts and generated 23 swings and misses across his scoreless outing.
Rafael Montero came on to relieve Garcia to begin the 8th and immediately put the result in jeopardy. He faced four batters, recorded no outs and allowed one run to cross.
Bryan Abreu came on clinging to a 2-1 lead with nowhere to put a runner. He survived a scare from old friend George Springer who lined a ball to third base with a .700 xBA that Alex Bregman handled. He then struck out Bo Bichette and got a weak flyout from Vlad Guerrero Jr.
In the home half of the 8th, the Astros put the Blue Jays to bed. Jake Meyers and Martín Maldonado were retired in order to lead off the inning. As Ryan Pressly warmed for a save opportunity, the top of the order ensured no save would be needed.
Dubón and Bregman both singled, followed by a walk from Yordan Alvarez to load the bases. José Abreu did exactly what he was brought here to do, driving in Dubón and Bregman on a single to left center.
The RBIs with the bases loaded were exactly what Abreu was expected to bring when he signed, and since he had gotten off to a slow start (normal for his career), this was a more than welcome occurrence.
Kyle Tucker followed with a base knock to score Alvarez, and just in case four runs was’t a big enough lead, Jeremy Peña deposited Adam Cimber’s first pitch slider into the Crawford Boxes to blow the doors off Toronto, opening the lead up to 8-1.
Pressly still threw the 9th, retiring the Jays in order, another positive takeaway in a game filled with them.
The Astros have today off and will head to Atlanta for a weekend showdown with the best team in the NL. Notoriously slow starters or not, the Astros needed a big win. As has been the case for the last six years, Houston yet again came through when needed the most.