Ronel Blanco aims to steady Astros in crucial Game 3 matchup with Blue Jays

BLANCO ON THE BUMP

Astros Ronel Blanco, Yainer Diaz
Ronel Blanco struggled in his last start against the Mets. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (43-42, second in the AL West) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (39-46, fifth in the AL East)

Toronto; Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Ronel Blanco (8-3, 2.49 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 84 strikeouts); Blue Jays: Yusei Kikuchi (4-8, 4.18 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 93 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -113, Blue Jays -107; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Toronto Blue Jays host the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

Toronto is 21-22 in home games and 39-46 overall. The Blue Jays have a 27-15 record in games when they record eight or more hits.

Houston has a 19-23 record on the road and a 43-42 record overall. Astros hitters have a collective .322 on-base percentage, the second-ranked percentage in the AL.

Wednesday’s game is the sixth meeting between these teams this season. The Astros hold a 3-2 advantage in the season series.

TOP PERFORMERS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the Blue Jays with a .298 batting average, and has 18 doubles, 13 home runs, 39 walks and 50 RBI. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is 16-for-38 with three home runs and four RBI over the past 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Blue Jays: 4-6, .248 batting average, 5.69 ERA, outscored by six runs.

Astros: 8-2, .293 batting average, 3.70 ERA, outscored opponents by 27 runs

INJURIES: Blue Jays: Isiah Kiner-Falefa: 10-Day IL (knee), Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: day-to-day (finger), Yimi Garcia: 15-Day IL (elbow), Jordan Romano: 15-Day IL (elbow), Alek Manoah: 15-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Jake Bloss: 15-Day IL (shoulder), Victor Caratini: 10-Day IL (hip), Justin Verlander: 15-Day IL (neck), Cristian Javier: 60-Day IL (forearm), Kyle Tucker: 10-Day IL (shin), Jose Urquidy: 60-Day IL (forearm), Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Most Popular

Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM