Surging Astros shut down Blue Jays
TORONTO -- There were plenty of firsts to around on Friday night and they were the primary reason the Houston Astros earned a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
First things first.
Teoscar Hernandez made his major league debut in center field and hit a home run for his first major league hit.
Joe Musgrove struck out seven in seven innings for his first major league win and the Astros (61-55) won their fourth game in a row.
“We’ve got a pretty young group now,” Astros manager A.J Hinch said. “This is fun to watch these guys come up and break in.”
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa each drove in two runs for the Astros.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 300th career win for the Blue Jays (65-51), who entered Friday with a half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East.
Musgrove (1-0) allowed six hits, one walk and two runs while striking out seven. He gave up a solo homer to Michael Saunders.
“It’s awesome,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s definitely good to get that first one out of the way, get the nerves and stuff out of the way.”
Will Harris entered the game in the ninth for the Astros and allowed a leadoff homer to Encarnacion, his 32nd of the season. Harris retired the next three batters to pick up his 12th save of the season.
Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-12) allowed eight hits, two walks and five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his second Blue Jays’ start after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I felt good physically and then things didn’t go well,” Liriano said through a translator. “I was behind in the count a lot so that didn’t help and the walks, that didn’t help either. I thought I made some good pitches but it didn’t work out.”
“Kind of a mixed bag,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I thought he threw better than the line indicates, overall. I didn’t think he was that bad. He’s got a live ball. They did square a couple of balls up and they were costly.”
Hernandez, who walked in his first major league plate appearance in the third inning, hit a 3-2 slider to left for a home run with two out in the sixth inning to give the Astros a 5-2 lead.
“It was awesome,” Hernandez said. “Incredible day, a day that I‘m never going to forget. ... As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone. It was good.”
After the home run by Hernandez, Liriano hit Jason Castro with a pitch and was replaced by Ryan Tepera, who allowed a walk before ending the inning.
Tepera left with one out in the eighth after giving up infield hits to Evan Gattis and Hernandez. Left-hander Brett Cecil walked George Springer to load the bases before Alex Bregman flied out to right to end the inning.
Musgrove was a supplemental first-round pick by Toronto in 2011 and went to Houston in a 10-player trade that brought left-hander J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays in July, 2012.
He was called up from Triple-A Fresno and struck out eight in 4 1/3 innings of relief in his major league debut Aug. 2 against Toronto.
“He was tough the other night in Houston,” Gibbons said. “It’s a good fastball, really good command and he has a dynamite breaking ball.”
“I contemplated that a lot over the past week or so, trying to decide if I wanted to approach it a different way or attack them with what I beat them with (last week),” Musgrove said. “I did a little bit of both this time. It was definitely nice to be able to do it here.”
Pat Neshek replaced Musgrove and pitched a perfect eighth.
Correa hit a two-run single up the middle to give the Astros a 2-0 lead in the third.
It scored Hernandez and George Springer, both of whom had walked. Bregman loaded the bases with a single and Altuve lined out to third before Correa drove in his 79th and 80th runs of the season.
The Blue Jays scored once in their half of the third. Darrell Ceciliani doubled, Devon Travis extended his streak to eight games with a single, and Ceciliani scored when Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play.
Saunders led off the bottom of the fourth with his career-best 20th homer of the season on a 2-1 sinker. His previous high was 19 in 2012.
The Astros took a 4-1 lead in the fifth. Springer led off with a single and took third on a double by Bregman. Altuve scored both with a double.
NOTES: Astros RHP Ken Giles is on paternity leave in Houston, where his wife was expecting their first child. RHP Luke Gregerson (left oblique strain), reinstated from the disabled list Friday, took his spot in the bullpen. ... Astros OF Teoscar Hernandez made his major league debut Friday in center field after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno to replace OF Preston Tucker (right shoulder strain), who was put on the DL. ... Blue Jays OF Ezequiel Carrera (strained Achilles) started his rehabilitation assignment Friday with Triple-A Buffalo. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday ... Toronto LHP J.A. Happ became the fourth different Blue Jays pitcher to win 16 games or more of his first 19 decisions on Wednesday. ... Toronto RHP Aaron Sanchez (11-2, 2.85 ERA) will start Saturday against Houston RHP Collin McHugh (7-9, 4.69 ERA).