'Incredibly dominant' Morton fans 13 in 10th win
Astros (53-28) have second-best record through 81 games in club history
HOUSTON -- Halfway through their regular season, one thing is certain about the 2018 Astros: When their pitching is on, they're a problem for opposing teams.
Astros starter Charlie Morton cruised through seven scoreless innings in Houston's 7-0 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Morton collected 13 strikeouts, one shy of tying his career high, in his 10th win of the season.
"Just incredibly dominant," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "The swings that he was getting. The takes that he was getting. When he's got 97-98 [mph], locating it where he did, [and] the big power breaking ball was exceptional tonight. He was in attack mode. Everything was working."
Morton became the fifth Astros pitcher since 2000 to collect double-digit wins prior to the All-Star break, joining Dallas Keuchel (11, 2015), Roy Oswalt (12, '05), Roger Clemens (10, '04) and Wade Miller (11, '01).
"Oh, yeah. I didn't even think about that," Morton said. "Yeah. That's a lot. That's good."
The Astros scored two runs against Blue Jays starter Ryan Borucki in his Major League debut, and it was more than enough support for Morton.
Alex Bregman connected on one of his three doubles in the fifth inning before Jose Altuve drew his third consecutive walk against Borucki. Two batters later, Evan Gattis sent a dribbling single through the middle of the infield, scoring Bregman and Altuve to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
Jake Marisnick, the Astros' struggling outfielder who was batting .176 entering Tuesday, uncorked a three-run homer in the eighth, and Bregman completed a 4-for-5 night by hitting a two-run homer that same inning.
Marisnick, whose defense has kept him as a viable option in Houston's outfield, also prevented the Blue Jays from scoring when he scaled the visiting bullpen wall to make a superb leaping, airborne snag in the sixth.
• Marisnick makes leaping grab, then smacks HR
"He had a great day," Hinch said. "Both sides of the ball, to be responsible for so many runs -- either putting on the board or taking off the board -- it's got to be a great feeling for him, and certainly something we've seen out of him before. It was very much needed at a time where it really helped us."
The Astros' 53-28 record is the second best in club history at the 81-game mark, trailing only last season's World Series-winning squad, which started 54-27.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
What a catch: While Marisnick's offense has underwhelmed lately, his defense has continued to shine. With two runners on during Morton's most strenuous inning, the sixth, Marisnick tracked down a soaring fly ball from Justin Smoak and used the field-facing side of the visiting bullpen to climb up the wall in left-center field and record the final out.
Morton's 13-strikeout performance was his fifth double-digit-strikeout outing this season. Prior to this year, Morton had recorded four double-digit-strikeout games in his career.
HE SAID IT
"It's pretty high on my list. In the top five." -- Marisnick, who said his run-saving catch was one of the best of his career
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 3.90 ERA) will get the ball against the Blue Jays in Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel has not allowed an earned run over his past two starts (12 innings), and he is 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA in four career starts vs. Toronto. Right-hander Marco Estrada (4-7, 4.48) will start for the Blue Jays.