HOUSTON -- The Astros have been in a class of their own throughout the first half of 2017, and that couldn't have been more clear Sunday as they entered the All-Star break with a 19-1 win over the Blue Jays, their 60th of the season.Houston's lineup was in peak form
HOUSTON -- The Astros have been in a class of their own throughout the first half of 2017, and that couldn't have been more clear Sunday as they entered the All-Star break with a 19-1 win over the Blue Jays, their 60th of the season.
Houston's lineup was in peak form with home runs from Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis and a pair from Carlos Correa. Altuve and Correa were especially dominant near the top of the order, combining to go 7-for-9 with eight RBIs.
"We really were explosive today," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "We never stopped. We have days like that where we just come at you for nine full innings, but we put a lot of big innings together."
J.A. Happ was not at his best for the Blue Jays, but just two of the six runs he allowed were earned. Over four innings, the left-hander allowed seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts, and will enter the break with a 3.54 ERA.
"I think any time you have a game like that, you try to flush it pretty quick," Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak said. "Hopefully we'll have this break here, much needed for a lot of guys in here, and we'll be ready to go afterwards."
Astros right-hander Brad Peacock walked five batters in his six innings, but kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard by avoiding hard contact and working out of his one jam. Peacock struck out four and continues to provide value to the Astros in a starting role.
"I felt great," Peacock said. "Obviously, I kind of struggled there in the fourth but made some pitches and got ahead of it. Gattis did a great job calling pitches that inning, getting me out of that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blue Jays leave door open in the second: Josh Donaldson almost ended the second inning with a defensive gem by making a diving snag on a George Springer ground ball, but he threw high and wide of Justin Smoak at first, which extended the inning. That play allowed Alex Bregman to score and kept the inning alive for a pair of home runs from Altuve and Correa to put Houston up 5-0.
"On a personal note, I'm certainly disappointed," said Happ, who allowed four unearned runs in the inning because of the error. "I wasn't very crisp today and against that lineup, especially, you need to be. That was a bummer."
Peacock creates and escapes a jam: The Blue Jays' best opportunity to jump back in the game came in the fourth after three walks from Peacock loaded the bases with one out. Kevin Pillar couldn't bring anyone home with an infield pop fly, however, and Peacock escaped the inning by forcing Ryan Goins to pop out into foul territory.
"I joked with him, saying he was almost out of the game in the fourth and he ended up with six scoreless," Hinch said.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Altuve is the ninth player in MLB history (since 1913) to record three or more hits in five consecutive games, and the first since George Brett in 1976.
This was the fourth-largest margin of defeat in Toronto franchise history, and the biggest since the club lost to the Orioles, 23-1, on Sept. 28, 2000.
There was a close call on the very first play of the game when Donaldson barehanded a slow chopper up the third-base line from Springer. Donaldson made a strong throw to first base and Springer was initially called out, but the call was overturned on a challenge. Springer was erased quickly, though, when Happ forced Altuve to ground into a double play.
Later in the first and with runners on the corners, Marwin Gonzalez sent a sinking line drive to center field that Pillar appeared to trap after a short-hop just inches in front of his glove. It was called a run-scoring base hit on the field, but after the Blue Jays asked for a review, the video showed that Pillar had gotten his glove under it and the inning was over.
Donaldson was involved in another review in the bottom of the second, but on the other side of the ball. With two out, Donaldson scorched a double off the wall in left field, and was called safe on a close tag at second after Gonzalez made a strong throw from left field. After review, the video showed that Altuve made the tag just in time and Donaldson was ruled out.
Astros:Charlie Morton (6-3, 3.82 ERA) will lead the Astros out of the All-Star break with a home start against the Twins on Friday at 7:10 pm CT. The right-hander pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays in his return from the disabled list and should have no restrictions in his next outing.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (0-2, 4.85) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open the second half of their season with a series against the Tigers on Friday night at 7:10 ET at Comerica Park. Sanchez was limited to six starts during the first half because of a blister on his right finger, and in his final start before the break he allowed eight runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and four walks in a lopsided loss to the Astros.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.