By Chris Abshire and Richard Dean
Special to MLB.com |
HOUSTON -- The streaking Astros received home runs from Luis Valbuena and Colby Rasmus and another solid starting pitching performance from Collin McHugh (5-1), to beat the Blue Jays, 4-2, on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. The Astros swept the four-game series and have won five straight games. At 25-13. the Astros also equaled the best start in franchise history, matching the 1998 club, which won a franchise-record 102 games.
"It's a great tribute to the players and leadership we have," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind, but you're never out of it. That's the way we're going about it."
Rasmus' sixth-inning solo home run off Toronto starter Mark Buehrle (5-3) gave the Astros a 3-2 lead. Jonathan Villar had two doubles for the Astros. Toronto, which got two doubles from Steve Tolleson, scored its runs on sacrifice flies.
"It was a good ballgame today," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "I thought we had a chance there with the [Jose Bautista] sacrifice fly, it looked like it would be a home run, and that would have made a big difference. We just came up short."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Long ball helps: Rasmus -- who was with the Blue Jays from 2011-14 -- swatted his seventh home run of the season, a two-out shot off Buehrle in the sixth, that landed in the upper-deck seats in right field.
"I've faced Buehrle before. He hung me a changeup, middle in, and I was able to hit it out," Rasmus said. More >
Damage control: McHugh allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in the first four innings, but he limited the damage, allowing only two runs in seven innings.
"It was tough from the get-go," McHugh said. "I felt like they had guys on base every inning. But overall we battled well today." More >
Take one for the team: For a while, it looked like a little sacrifice might be enough to break the Blue Jays' losing skid, which is now at five games. Sacrifice flies were all the Toronto offense could muster against McHugh. Bautista's third-inning flyout to the warning track in left plated Tolleson to tie the game at 1-1. An inning later, the formula stayed the same, as Ryan Goins smoked a ball to left. That brought in Chris Colabello and briefly put the Jays in front, 2-1. More >
"A bench player whose playing time comes and goes. And he's starting to catch his rhythm and contributes." -- Hinch on Villar, who had two doubles
"I'm stating the obvious right now when I say that we stink. … We have to turn it around before we have a fire sale and start trading guys or sending guys up and down. We have the talent this year, but we aren't playing very well." -- Buehrle
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros now have a 12-2 all-time record against the Blue Jays in Minute Maid Park, their best home mark in the stadium against any team.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: The club returns home Monday for a holiday afternoon game against the Angels at 1:07 ET. Aaron Sanchez gets the start, and he's looking to eliminate the one big inning that cost him vs. the Orioles his last time out. Toronto desperately needs a lockdown effort with a five-game losing streak in tow.
Astros: Lance McCullers, the 10th-ranked Astros prospect by MLB.com, makes his much-anticipated Major League debut Monday night at 7:10 CT against the A's. McCullers was 3-1 with a 0.62 ERA at Double-A Corpus Christi before being promoted last week to Triple-A Fresno, where he did not pitch before heading to Houston. More >