Schneider comes up clutch with go-ahead HR off Hader

April 3rd, 2024

HOUSTON -- provided the offense the Blue Jays desperately needed, launching a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning as Toronto rallied for a 2-1 win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

It started with Justin Turner, who added a walk to his three-hit night as the Blue Jays trailed 1-0 with two outs in the ninth. Schneider stepped up to face Astros closer Josh Hader. He drove a slider up in the zone for a monster blast off the façade in left field that gave the Blue Jays the lead.

Schneider said he was sitting on the fastball up and away.

“He threw that slider,” Schneider said. “It was one that spun there and didn’t break. It kind of reminded me of the one that I hit off [Aroldis] Chapman last year. It was one of those sliders that I saw up and away and it came down in the middle.”

It was the first ninth-inning go-ahead homer of Schneider's career.

“That was my first time ever facing Josh Hader,” Schneider said. “He has a great track record as a really good closer. It’s one of those things where you have to try to keep calm. If you try to overdo things, that’s when bad things are going to happen. I’m glad I that I calmed my nerves a little bit.”

Manager John Schneider credited Davis Schneider for having a great approach at the plate, but he also highlighted Turner's walk.

“I thought he got it,” John Schneider said of Davis. “Just exactly what you want out of him. Great plan. He sat on the slider. [Hader]’s got a tough heater. Awesome at-bat. First of all, [it was great for Turner] to get on base to get to Schneid. It was just a great swing on a pitch he could handle.”

It was the Blue Jays’ first go-ahead home run in the ninth since Marcus Semien did it on Sept. 3, 2021 against Oakland. It was also a welcome sight for the Blue Jays, who were no-hit on Monday and who hadn't done much offensively on Tuesday -- outside of Turner's three-hit game.

“It’s good to come out with a W when the first eight innings didn’t go our way,” Davis Schneider said.

Schneider’s homer was enough run support after José Berríos kept the Astros’ bats at bay, surrendering one run on six hits, three walks and two strikeouts in six-plus innings.

“He was locating,” John Schneider said of Berríos. “He was trying to get glove-side a little bit with his heater, but didn’t really have it, so I think his sinker into the right-handers set up his breaking ball, and he made a good in-game adjustment.

“I think he has a lot of confidence right now, which is a good thing, too. He’s really showing why he’s one of the better pitchers in the league, but it was a good in-game adjustment with him going to his sinker in on the righties.”

Berríos relied mainly on his sinker, slurve and changeup, successfully following up his Opening Day performance, when he allowed two runs on six hits with six strikeouts against the Rays.

He threw the sinker 41% of the time (36 out of 88 pitches) and got four swings and misses out of 17 swings on the pitch. He used the slurve 27% of the time and changeup 18% of the time.

“Tonight was a night I didn’t have my best stuff, but I was still able to go out there and compete,” Berríos said. “I held the game at 1-0. I think my slurve was working pretty good. That’s the pitch that helped me all night because I didn’t feel like I had the power. I didn’t feel like I was explosive on the end, but I had it in my mind to compete and try to make my pitches.”

Yimi García, Tim Mayza and Chad Green combined for three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, and the Blue Jays’ defense supported the pitching staff, with George Springer throwing out Chas McCormick trying to stretch a single into a double in the third and Alejandro Kirk throwing Jose Altuve out at third to end the eighth.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, and plays like [Springer’s] helped me to keep rolling, keep focused and make my pitches,” Berríos said. “That’s why I say when we won, we won all together.”