He’s officially clutch.
After going 0-4 for the day with a potentially costly error, in the bottom of the tenth inning Jeremy Pena came through big-time, hitting a game winning, two-run homer to win about as exciting and hard-fought a game as you will ever see.
Instead of going into Arlington tomorrow on a five game losing streak, Pena has sent the Astros on the road on a high to face their cross-state rivals.
This game was an exciting back and forth contest for most of the game.
The Astros got on the board first in the second inning against Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi. Aledmys Diaz worked a walk, followed by a Pena grounder to shortstop. Bo Bichette bobbled the hard-hit one-hopper sending runners to first and third with one out. Martin Maldonado followed with a walk and Chas McCormick got the first RBI with an infield single to short. With two outs Alex Bregman got the inning’s second RBI with another walk. Yordan Alvarez struck out to strand the bases loaded.
The Blue Jays did not answer until the fourth inning when Vladimir Guerrero sacrificed George Springer home, who led off the inning with a double.
The Astros extended their 2-1 lead in the fourth to 4-1 on a Michael Brantley two run homer, scoring Martin Maldonado who walked ahead of Brantley. This sent Kikuchi to the showers, leaving the game with 3.2 innings pitched, four runs (2 earned) three hits, five walks, and four strikeouts.
On the first pitch in the fifth inning Lourdes Gurriel brought the Jays one run closer with his first homer of the season to left center field.
But the Astros answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when older brother Yuli Gurriel, who led off the inning with a double, scored on a throwing error by first baseman Cavan Biggio trying to put out Jeremy Pena at first.
After that the Blue Jays busted loose with the help of a little luck. With two outs and a runner on first, Guerrero hit a swinging bunt to keep the inning alive. Zack Collins followed with a three run homer to right field to tie the score.
The two home runs spoiled what was otherwise a commendable start by Luis Garcia, whose final line was six innings pitched, six runs, five hits and one walk allowed, with six strikeouts.
Let’s face it, the Blue Jays lineup presents a formidable challenge for any pitcher.
The Blue Jays took their first lead in the seventh against Parker Mushinski who surrendered his one run on a Santiago Espinal double scoring Raimel Tapia. Ronel Blanco got the remaining two outs to limit the damage.
But the Astros tied the game in the bottom of the seventh after Y. Gurriel led off with a double, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on an Aledmys Diaz soft line drive single just over the head of the pulled-in shortstop Bo Bichette.
In the eighth the Astros escaped a near disaster when Rafael Montero allowed the first two Jays hitters, Bichette and Guerrero, to get on with singles, but then struck out the next two Jays. However, otherwise slick fielding Jeremy Pena booted an easy Matt Chapman grounder, loading the bases for Raimel Tapia, who, fortunately for the Stros, grounded out to second baseman Diaz to end the threat.
The Astros had their own threat snuffed out in the eighth. With one out Michael Brantley sliced a liner to the wall in the left field corner that had gotten past L. Gurriel. It looked like a sure triple but Gurriel’s perfect throw to third just beat Brantley to the bag for what turned out to be a three up, three down inning.
Bryan Abreu held the Jays in the ninth striking out George Springer and Bichette. The bottom of the inning started with promise for the Stros with a leadoff Yordan Alvarez single, but Chas McCormick promptly hit into a double play sending the game into extra innings.
Abreu stayed in for the tenth inning to face the toughest part of the toughest lineup in baseball, and promptly walked Guerrero with Bichette the extra runner on second. He then struck out Collins looking on a 3-2 slider. However, L. Gurriel doubled home Bichette putting runners on second and third with one out. But then, Abreu induced a pop up from Matt Chapman.
Dusty Baker then brought in lefty Blake Taylor to face left-hander Tapia who hit a sharp line drive straight at Brantley to end the inning with the Jays up 7-6.
With Kyle Tucker at second base to open the inning Aledmys Diaz struck out against Jays closer Jordan Romano.
But then. The big blast deep to straight-way center.
The Astros send Framber Valdez to the mound to take on the Rangers in Arlingrton tomorrow at 7:05 CT.
Box score and videos HERE.