Tue, Jun 6, 2023 12:35 AM
By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Corey Julks hit his first career grand slam, Brandon Bielak matched his career high by pitching 6 2/3 innings and the Houston Astros used a season-high 19 hits to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 Monday night.
Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker hit solo homers and Jake Meyers added a two-run blast as the Astros won for the eighth time in 11 games. Houston has won 19 of 25.
Meyers and Astros catcher Yainer Diaz each had four hits.
Bielak (3-2) allowed three runs and 10 hits in winning for the third time in four starts. He walked one and struck out two.
“Bielak took us deep into the game,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We were trying to get him into the seventh so we didn’t have to go through too much of our bullpen.”
Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho hit solo home runs as Toronto had its four-game winning streak halted.
After RBI singles by Alvarez and Tucker, Julks capped a six-run first inning with his first-pitch drive off struggling Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah. The homer was Julks’ fifth.
“Knowing that the bases were loaded, he didn’t have anywhere to put me so I was trying to be aggressive,” Julks said.
Manoah (1-7) failed to get out of the first in his seventh straight losing decision, retiring just one of the nine batters he faced.
“That was really fun to jump on them early,” said Meyers, whose hit chased Manoah.
Some in the crowd of 23,982 booed Manoah, an All-Star and AL Cy Young Award finalist last season.
“A lot of things I’ve been working on, I didn’t really have a chance to go out there and use that,” Manoah said. “Just got to show up tomorrow and get ready for the next one.”
Blue Jays manager John Schneider was asked whether he expected Manoah to make his next scheduled start.
“I think so,” Schneider said. “When I say that everything is on the table, yeah, everything is. We’re just trying to help him get back to the caliber of pitcher that he was.”
Manoah allowed six runs on seven hits and walked one. His ERA rose from 5.46 to 6.36.
“Manoah wasn’t himself,” Baker said. “That helped us a lot.”
Facing left-hander Tim Mayza, Julks batted with the bases loaded again in the eighth, but grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
Alvarez and Tucker connected off Trevor Richards in the fourth. Alvarez’s homer, his 16th, was a 452-foot drive into the center field party deck. Tucker went deep for the eighth time.
Meyers joined Julks and Tucker and became the third Astros outfielder to homer, hitting a two-run blast off Anthony Bass in the fifth, his sixth of the season.
Bielak left after Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s double made it 10-3. Seth Martinez came on and struck out pinch-hitter Nathan Lukes to strand two runners.
Kirk homered in the second, his third of the season. Varsho connected off Martinez in the eighth, his 10th.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve missed his third straight game because of a sore right oblique, which he tweaked on an awkward swing Friday. Baker said Altuve is feeling better and could return Tuesday or Wednesday.
Blue Jays: RHP Zach Pop (right hamstring) returned to Toronto to be reevaluated after experiencing discomfort in a recent rehab outing with Class A Dunedin.
The Astros selected INF Grae Kessinger from Triple-A Sugar Land. Houston optioned C César Salazar to Triple-A and transferred RHP Luis Garcia to the 60-day injured list. Kessinger played all four infield positions at Triple-A this season, hitting .284 with six home runs and 32 RBI in 52 games.
WHOOSH AND PUSH
Houston’s second hit of the game was Jeremy Peña’s bunt down the third base line. Manoah got down on his hands and knees and tried to blow the ball foul, leading plate umpire Scott Barry to immediately rule it fair.
Blue Jays RHP Anthony Bass was booed when he came on in the fifth. Bass apologized last week for expressing support on social media for anti-LGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light.
Blue Jays RHP KevIn Gausman (4-3, 2.76) faces Astros RHP Hunter Brown (5-2, 3.61) Tuesday night. Gausman allowed a season-high eight runs in an April 17 loss at Houston.