Better late than never.
Although the Astros managed to score two runs early, the home team bats then went limp through the seventh inning, threatening to waste a magnificent starting performance by Luis Garcia. But in the eighth inning, the Astros managed to put out a scorching Blue Jays fire to preserve a fragile lead, while the Astros offense blazed rout-of-control, making a close game look like a romp: final score 8-1.
The Astros scored first on a two-run double by Jake Meyers, which scored Jeremy Pena and David Hensley, who were hit by a pitch and walked, respectively.
But after the second, Astros starter Luis Garcia and Jays starter Jose Berrios engaged in a classic pitcher’s duel. Neither pitcher allowed a run nor even a serious scoring threat thereafter through the seventh inning.
Luis Garcia was particularly impressive. Against one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, he went seven innings, allowing no runs, two hits, one walk, with nine strikeouts.
Glad to have you back Luis.
However, Garcia couldn’t last forever, and in the eighth inning, the Astros brought in Rafael Montero, who almost gave it all away. He allowed a run and left the bases loaded with no outs before being sent to the showers. In comes the Astros' new highest-of-high-leverage guys, Bryan Abreu, who threw five outs last night.
Facing one of the best top-of-the-lineups in baseball, Abreu got out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam preserving the Astros' lead. He got George Springer to line out to third base, Bo Bichette to strike out, and mighty Vladmir Guerrero Jr. to fly out to center on the tenth pitch of the at-bat.
But the Astros were able to break through in the ninth. And then some. With two outs, Mauricio Dubon and Alex Bregman singled against Zach Pop, Yordan Alvarez walked, and Jose Abreu hit a killer two-run single.
The Abreus coming in clutch tonight. pic.twitter.com/4Pr3qGf43k— Houston Astros (@astros) April 20, 2023
But wait, there’s more. Kyle Tucker singled home Alvarez, and then...Jeremy Pena broke out with a three-run homer.
Taking no chances, Dusty Baker sent in closer Ryan Pressly to close it out, which he did with ease, preserving the Astros’ 8-1 win.
The Astros only had eight hits to go with their eight runs, but they were 4-5 with runners in scoring position.
Two of the Astros’ most troubling underperformers so far seem to be waking up. Luis Garcia’s seven scoreless innings brought his season ERA down more than 2 1⁄2 points to 5.14. And Jose Abreu is 4-8 in his last two games.
And one overachiever remained on point. Mauricio Dubon extended his hitting streak to fourteen games.
No game tomorrow.