Apr 17, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Corey Julks (9) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Julks, Meyers hit home runs in Astros’ 9-2 series-opening win over Blue Jays
Corey Julks and Jake Meyers hit home runs and drove in three runs from the bottom of the Astros’ lineup as they came away with a 9-2 series-opening win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night at Minute Maid Park. Julks hit a two-run double and a solo homer, Meyers smacked a three-run homer, and they each scored a pair of runs.
Astros’ bats erupt in a seven-run first inning
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman entered Monday’s game having allowed just three earned runs through his first three starts of the season. On paper, Gausman appeared to be a tough matchup for a struggling Astros offense, but they went to work early against the Toronto right-hander.
Seven of the first eight hitters Gausman faced reached base, starting with Mauricio Dubón’s leadoff single. Yordan Alvarez walked with one out, and both scored when Jose Abreu ripped a double 109.3 MPH off the bat over the head of Blue Jays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. After Kyle Tucker walked, Jeremy Peña reached on catcher’s interference to load the bases. Corey Julks brought home two runs with a double, and Jake Meyers capped off the inning with his first home run of the season, driving in three.
Because of the catcher’s interference call, only six of the inning’s runs were earned, but Gausman’s ERA went from 1.35 when the inning started to 3.86 when it ended. The Astros’ seven-run first inning was their highest-scoring first inning since they scored nine against the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 14, 2020.
Cristian Javier bends but doesn’t break
Javier struck out Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to finish a 1-2-3 first inning, but allowed a solo homer to Matt Chapman with one out in the second that made it 7-1. He followed that up by losing an eight-pitch battle to Brandon Belt and issuing a walk, but recovered to induce pop-outs from Danny Jansen and Cavan Biggio to end the inning. Javier then ran into more trouble in the third.
He surrendered a leadoff single to Kiermaier and a one-out single to Bichette. Guerrero flied out to center for the inning’s second out, but Javier walked Dalton Varsho to load the bases. The walk brought Javier’s pitch count to 66 and pitching coach Josh Miller to the mound as Phil Maton began warming in the Astros bullpen. Javier blew a fastball by Chapman to leave the bases loaded before working through the fourth and fifth innings without allowing a baserunner.
Javier earned his second win of the season, allowing just the Chapman homer over five innings while giving up three hits and issuing two walks to go with five strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches, 57 for strikes.
News and Notes:
•Dubón finished 1-for-3 and is batting .360 on his current career-long 12-game hitting streak.
•Abreu’s first-inning double snapped an 0-for-13 skid and was his third extra-base hit in 17 games.
•Chas McCormick was held out of the starting lineup for a third straight game after leaving Friday’s game due to vision issues. Astros manager Dusty Baker said before the game McCormick was available as a pinch runner, but offered no further clarity on when he’d be able to start games again.
•Parker Mushinski (back) worked out with the Astros on Monday during Triple-A Sugar Land’s off day. He’ll continue with his rehab assignment there, where he’s allowed two runs over 2.2 innings.
The Astros and Blue Jays will play the middle game of their three-game series on Tuesday night with Jose Urquidy (1-0) taking the mound opposite Chris Bassitt (1-2).