The search for the illusive fifth starter continues.
After allowing only one run in six innings (but 5 walks) in his last start, Framber Valdez was not so lucky tonight. In 5.2 innings he allowed six earned runs on nine hits and three walks. The big damage was done by two homers, both by players with Astros connections. Former Astro Teoscar Hernandez hit a two run shot off Valdez in the 3rd inning, this after Randal Grichuk’s RBI single. And Cavan Biggio, the son of Houston’s first Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio, hit a two run shot in the fourth.
Here’s Biggio’s homer, his second in two games.
The Blue Jays scored their sixth run in the sixth inning when reliever Joe Smith allowed a Biggio double, which scored Bo Bichette, who singled off of Valdez with two outs, and thus the run was charged to Valdez.
Like so many other Astros losses, this was a game of missed opportunities. Houston recorded four double plays, one on a fly out in the first inning by Yordan Alvarez in which Jose Altuve could not get back to first base before the return throw. This followed a George Springer lead off single, an Altuve single, and an Alex Bregman sacrifice fly.
Here’s Altuve’s TOOTBLAN.
In the third inning, with one out following a Springer single, Altuve ground into a double play. In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second and one out, it was Abraham Toro’s turn to get doubled up. In the fifth, Jake Marisnick similarly ended the inning.
The Astros managed two runs in the sixth inning, both after two outs, thanks to a Yuli Gurriel double that scored Bregman and Alvarez, both of whom walked.
The Astros added their last run in the seventh inning, but also wasted their best opportunity to catch the Blue Jays. Back to back singles to open the inning by Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado, followed by a one out walk to Springer, brought up Jose Altuve with the bases loaded and only one out. Altuve grounded out to the pitcher, who threw home to force out Josh Reddick. With the bases still loaded Alex Bregman did at least bring in one run and get his second RBI on a walk. (Bregman had two RBI and no hits) However. with the bases loaded Yordan Alvarez struck out.
This was Clay Buchholz’ first win as a Blue Jay.
Alvarez and Toro each stranded five runners and Altuve four. As a team the Astros were one for eight with runners in scoring position and stranded eight batters total at the end of innings.
Alvarez is two for seventeen in his last four games.
On the brighter side, seeing as how key relief pitchers Ryan Pressly, Brad Peacock, and now Collin McHugh are on IL as the playoffs approach, the Astros got good performances from Joe Smith and Cy Sneed, each of whom threw a perfect inning after Valdez’ departure.
Sweet revenge for Ken Giles, who made an ignominious performance by the Astros feel even worse, compiling his 18th save by striking out George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman. Where was this Ken Giles during the World Series?
Tomorrow is the rubber match of the series as the Astros send Justin Verlander to the mound against Wilmer Font.
Game time 12:07 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.