TORONTO -- Though he allowed the decisive home run in Saturday's 4-2 defeat against the Blue Jays, the Astros remain confident in reliever James Hoyt.Struggling to get anything going against Houston starter Collin McHugh, Toronto played small ball to make its way back into the game. A one-out base knock
TORONTO -- Though he allowed the decisive home run in Saturday's 4-2 defeat against the Blue Jays, the Astros remain confident in reliever James Hoyt.
Struggling to get anything going against Houston starter Collin McHugh, Toronto played small ball to make its way back into the game. A one-out base knock by Edwin Encarnacion and a bunt single by Michael Saunders in the sixth prompted Astros manager A.J. Hinch to pull McHugh and go with the relatively untested Hoyt against Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, with Houston leading, 2-1.
With the Astros missing closer Ken Giles for the weekend and reliever Chris Devenski unavailable after starting and pitching five innings in the second game of a doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday, Hoyt was charged with the task of holding the lead. Relievers Michael Feliz, Luke Gregerson and Will Harris were available for the later innings.
After getting Troy Tulowitzki to ground out, Hoyt fell behind in the count, 3-0, to Martin. He battled back to bring it full before hanging an 86-mph slider, which Martin sent out of the yard for a three-run, game-changing home run.
"I felt like that was the right pitch to throw, and I was confident in the pitch," Hoyt said. "It was maybe a little up, but the slider is what I wanted to go to there and he gets me. I'd like to think next time I get him there, or it goes my way."
Despite admitting to using Hoyt out of his normal role, Hinch stood by his reliever after the game, and said the outing won't dissuade the manager from using the 29-year-old in a key situation going forward.
"Well, he's got to pitch," Hinch said. "A lot of times when you lose some guys, you've got to slot guys in some roles that are unaccustomed. He's more than equipped to get those guys out. He made one bad pitch today and it cost us three runs."
In his six professional seasons, Hoyt has found himself pitching everywhere from the Mexican League to the Venezuelan Winter League, and he pitched to a 1.62 ERA this season for Triple-A Fresno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Prior to his outing on Saturday, he had allowed just one run over 5 1/3 Major League innings with the Astros this season.
Although the outing left Hoyt with his first career blown save, McHugh echoed that it's all part of the learning process, and something his teammate will need to put him behind him quickly.
"I told Hoyt after the game, you can throw that pitch to Martin another 10 times and he might hit it like that once," McHugh said. "So you can't really beat yourself up about it. You can't go away from the game plan. You make your pitch and you've got to live with the results."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.