Wed, 27 Sep 2023

Blue Jays bring 4-game win streak into opener with Astros

Field Level Media
05 Jun 2023, 15:19 GMT+10

The Toronto Blue Jays will try to extend their winning streak to five games Monday night when they open a four-game series against the visiting Houston Astros.

Brandon Belt hit a tiebreaking two-run home run in the seventh inning Sunday to give the Blue Jays a 6-4 victory over the host New York Mets to keep the streak alive and complete a three-game sweep.

"Huge home run," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "But his at-bats this weekend, just really lately it's been really consistent."

"Sweeping a team is really hard no matter where you are or who it is. I thought it was really a complete team effort," Schneider said.

The Astros likely agree, having failed to complete a four-game home sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, losing 2-1 on Sunday.

The Astros were without second baseman Jose Altuve (oblique) for the final two games of the series.

Astros manager Dusty Baker said Altuve "felt something in his oblique" while taking an awkward swing Friday. Altuve ran sprints and did fielding drills before the game Sunday, but Baker said Altuve had not resumed hitting and was day-to-day.

"He's feeling good," Baker said. "We just have to stay cautious. We can't rush him. I know when he got back, there was a good chance something's going to happen, because I've been there before."

Altuve missed the first 43 games of the season after suffering a fractured right thumb in the World Baseball Classic. He made his season debut May 19.

The Astros are scheduled to start right-hander Brandon Bielak (2-2, 3.19 ERA). It will be his first career appearance against Toronto.

Bielak has won two of his past three starts, including a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. He gave up one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to start right-hander Alek Manoah (1-6, 5.46). In his one previous start against the Astros, which came on April 23, 2022, Manoah tossed six innings of two-run ball and picked up the win.

Manoah, whose only win this season came on April 5, has lost his last two starts, allowing seven runs, six earned, over a combined seven innings.

The Astros' only run Sunday came on a homer by Yainer Diaz, who was making his second start at first base this season. Regular first baseman Jose Abreu was given a day off.

The start at first was a test for Diaz, a catcher who has recently been working out at first base.

"I don't know how comfortable he is, actually (at first base)," Baker said before the game.

Diaz helped his cause for more time there, also hitting a double.

The Blue Jays continued to see encouraging signs from their own first baseman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., on Sunday. Serving as the designated hitter with Belt playing first, Guerrero hit his ninth home run of the season in the third inning and singled before Belt homered in the seventh.

Guerrero's homer was his first since May 23 when he hit a grand slam against a position player -- Tampa Bay Rays outfielder/first baseman Luke Raley -- in a blowout. It was his first home run against a pitcher since May 4 (Brayan Bello of the Boston Red Sox). He has yet to yet to hit a home run in Toronto this season.

--Field Level Media

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