Yordan Alvarez homers twice, Astros shut out Blue Jays

Yordan Alvarez homers twice, Astros shut out Blue Jays
Astros take the series two games to one. Composite Getty Image.

Yordan Alvarez homered twice and matched his career high with four hits, Cristian Javier and four relievers combined on a one-hitter and the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-0 on Wednesday night.

Javier (1-0) allowed the only hit and pitched five innings. Seth Martinez, Rafael Montero, Tayler Scott and Dylan Coleman worked an inning each.

It’s the second game in the series where the Blue Jays were shut out after Ronel Blanco threw the 17th no-hitter in franchise history in a 10-0 victory Monday night.

It was a breakout night for Alvarez, who entered Wednesday having hit just three singles in the first six games. It was the 16th career multi-homer game for the Cuban and the sixth time he’s had four hits.

“It was a matter of time,” manager Joe Espada said. “Anytime he can put some good swings like that and and hit some balls hard and it’s a good sign and that's exactly what we needed.”

Alvarez said there was a simple reason why he broke out Wednesday.

“I (used) last year's bats,” he said in Spanish through a translator.

Though he had two home runs, he thought two other balls he hit were going to leave the park.

“Yeah,” he said. “Welcome to Minute Maid.”

Alvarez, who added an RBI double in the fourth, homered off Chris Bassitt (0-2) in the third and connected off Tim Mayza in the sixth.

The Astros tagged Bassitt (0-2) for nine hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings in his second tough start to open the season after he allow 10 hits and a career-high nine runs in his season debut.

Daulton Varsho doubled with one out in the second for Toronto’s only hit. The Blue Jays walked seven times but couldn’t get anything going at the plate.

“We’re not doing much damage on balls we’re putting in play right now,” manager John Schneider said. “That’s kind of been the story of this series. It’s good pitching. So, you want to do a little bit more but you move on.”

Jeremy Peña hit a two-run homer and Jose Altuve added a solo shot in the seventh to make it 8-0. Peña had two hits and drove in three runs in his fourth multi-hit game this season. It was the second straight game with a homer for Altuve and his third this season.

There was one out in the third when Alvarez, who hit 31 homers last season, knocked one to the bullpen in right-center to put Houston on top 1-0.

Altuve walked with two outs in the fourth before scoring on a double by Alvarez to extend the lead to 2-0.

Chas McCormick and Peña hit consecutive RBI singles with one out in the fifth to make it 4-0.

The second homer by Alvarez came to start the sixth and extend the lead to 5-0. The shot landed in the seats behind the bullpen in right-center.


Blue Jays: RHP Alek Manoah (right shoulder soreness) threw a three-inning simulated game in Florida Tuesday. Blue Jays manager John Schneider said the next step will likely be for Manoah to make a rehabilitation start for Single-A Dunedin Sunday.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) will throw a bullpen in Houston Thursday before making the first of what is expected to be two rehabilitation starts for Triple-A Sugar Land Sunday.


Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 6.23 ERA) will face New York RHP Marcus Stroman (1-0, 0.00) in the opener of a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday.

Astros: RHP Hunter Brown (0-0, 0.00) opposes Texas RHP Cody Bradford (1-0, 3.60) in the first of four games against the Rangers on Friday night.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.


Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.


RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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