Astros pulverize porous Blue Jays bullpen in late-game rout

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On the same day Jordan Romano underwent surgery on his throwing elbow, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Blue Jays were tempted to take a knife to their bullpen.

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At this stage of the game, the team’s hands are pretty much tied up, unwilling to make a major move to address a deficiency that shows no signs of being improved internally or simply unable to correct an issue that will only fester.

It would help if the Jays’ offence was better, but that’s another issue that has festered, despite some encouraging moments produced of late from a handful of hitters.

Wednesday night inside the opened roof at Rogers Centre, it was all about the Jays’ bullpen and how porous the arms asked to step up performed.

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The moment when it all unravelled arrived in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game. By the time the Houston Astros were finished in the frame, four runs would be scored as the visitors parlayed their uprising into a 9-2 win.

The Jays must win Thursday’s series finale to earn a split.

Whether it was Zach Pop or Jose Cuas, Toronto’s bullpen was not good. Boos began to rain down and they intensified when manager John Schneider went to the mound to replace Pop for Cuas, who was recently claimed off waivers.

More boos would follow, directed at Houston’s Jose Altuve, who got the last laugh when he drove in a run on a hit into right field.

In the eighth inning, it was Bowden Francis on the mound, left to salvage anything on a night turned bad. Francis had runners at first and second with one out when he faced a one-man dynamo in designated hitter Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez hit a run-scoring double as he continued to wreak havoc.

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Another hit would follow and yet another run scored as the Astros began to pile it up.

Much like Jose Berrios on Tuesday, Yusei Kikuchi was not at his best. Unlike Berrios, Kikuchi did not receive the kind of run support that would earn Berrios the win in an eventual 7-6 victory by the Blue Jays, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead in that game.

At least Kikuchi was staked with a 1-0 lead.

Of greater concern was the way the Astros were turning on pitches, even when they stayed in the ballpark.

Too many hard-hit balls, though, would ultimately doom Kikuchi. After he surrendered a homer to put Houston up by one run, Kikuchi gave up a couple of rather loud fly balls, one would be caught on the track, while another went off the wall for a double.

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Exit Kikuchi.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on before playing against the Houston Astros.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on before playing against the Houston Astros in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, July 3, 2024, in Toronto. Photo by Mark Blinch /Getty Images

STARS ALIGN

The game had just begun when MLB announced Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had been named the starting first baseman for the AL team in the upcoming All-Star Game.

In terms of popularity, Guerrero ranks among the top, especially when one considers Toronto is the lone Canadian team in the big leagues.

In terms of merit, he clearly belongs to play in baseball’s midsummer classic, which this year will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the reigning World Series-champion Rangers.

Guerrero will not throw his hat into the Home Run Derby ring.

The all-star game will be played July 16.

For Guerrero, this will mark his fourth all-star selection. His dad appeared in nine

“I’m getting closer,” quipped Guerrero. “That’s my goal.”

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At 25 years old, he’ll be making twice as many all-star appearances as his dad made at the same age. His dad ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Guerrero’s body of work is far from complete. Having said that, he’s been on a complete tear of late at the plate. In his first at-bat Wednesday, Guerrero stroked a single into right field.

When the Jays last faced Astros starter Ronel Blanco in the second series of the season, the right-hander was putting together a no-hitter.

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CHILD’S PLAY

Justin Turner joined Danny Jansen on the paternity list.

Jansen’s wife gave birth to a baby girl, while Turner’s spouse was due to deliver the couple’s child at any time Wednesday.

With Turner being unavailable, the Jays were able to recall Steward Berroa.

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It’s doubtful the veteran will be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale.

Behind the plate for the Jays Wednesday was Brian Serven, who batted ninth in the order. Serven recorded his first hit of the season in the bottom of the fifth when he sent a one-out line drive into right field.

The inning ended when George Springer hit into a double-play.

Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez hits a solo home run.
Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez hits a solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during sixth-inning MLB baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. Photo by Jon Blacker /THE CANADIAN PRESS

YORDAN RULES AGAIN

Not many in baseball carry such a prodigious presence as Alvarez, a hulking individual capable of going yard at any time during a game on any pitch.

In the two previous games of the series heading into Wednesday, Alvarez had recorded three hits, while knocking in five runs. In the third game of the series, he added to his totals, first by knocking in a run on a double and then going deep in the sixth inning as Houston took a 2-1 lead.

The guy can flat-out hit a baseball. And when he puts full barrel on the ball, Alvarez is more than capable of launching it over the seats to all areas of the outfield.

In the top half of the seventh inning, Alvarez was intentionally walked.

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