The Toronto Blue Jays have won both games after moving their home base to Buffalo and are primed for a three-game series against the visiting Houston Astros starting Friday night.
The Blue Jays, who played their first 21 home games in Dunedin, Fla., were off Thursday after a three-run rally in the ninth gave them a 6-5 walk-off victory over the visiting Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Toronto swept the two-game set to go 11-2 this season against National League teams.
“Never count us out,” said Blue Jays third baseman Joe Panik, who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly. “That’s the one thing about the Blue Jays. Never count us out.”
“We fight no matter what,” said shortstop Bo Bichette, whose two-run triple tied the game in the ninth. “We know we can put up runs. We know we can stop runs from scoring. The biggest thing is that this reminds us to never stop playing.”
The Astros lost 5-1 to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Thursday, failing to score against left-hander Martin Perez over 7 2/3 innings.
The Astros won three of four from Boston to complete a 5-4 homestand. They play 16 of their next 22 games on the road.
They will face another left-hander with finesse on Friday in Hyun Jin Ryu (5-2, 2.62 ERA), who has never faced the Astros in his career.
The Astros will start Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.67). In 13 career games (11 starts) against Toronto, he is 4-4 with a 4.33 ERA. He faced the Blue Jays on May 9 at Houston and did not factor into the decision in the Astros’ 7-4 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series. He allowed nine hits and four runs in four innings.
Both teams can score. The Astros lead the AL with 5.21 runs per game and the Blue Jays are second at 5.04.
The Blue Jays have won six of eight after a six-game losing streak.
The Astros rested Kyle Tucker, Carlos Correa and Martin Maldonado on Thursday. Yuli Gurriel was 3-for-4 with a home run in the game. He will be playing against his brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in Buffalo.
Yordan Alvarez was 0-for-4 Thursday in his usual spot as DH, but he did play left field for the Astros on Wednesday and that could happen again.
“He’s been working out in the outfield every day, taking extra balls, balls off the bat,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Alvarez could also play some first base later in the season, Baker said, to spell 36-year-old Gurriel. By playing left field on occasion, Alvarez could give a break to 34-year-old Michael Brantley (hamstring) when he comes off the injured list, possibly on Friday.
“It gives me some flexibility in my lineup and gives me some opportunities to save Michael, let Michael DH sometimes,” Baker said. “It keeps Michael stronger, which we have to do. We miss Michael. Michael is a big part of our lineup (and) a big part of our defense.”
Former Astros outfielder George Springer (quadriceps), who has played only four games since Toronto signed him as a free agent in the offseason, has been progressing toward a return.
–Field Level Media