TORONTO — Following one of the worst losses in franchise history, J.A. Happ admitted the hole the Toronto Blue Jays have dug themselves prior to the all-star break will make it tough to get into the post-season.
Carlos Correa hit a pair of home runs and drove in five runs on Sunday as the Houston Astros crushed Toronto 19-1. It’s the fourth largest margin of defeat in Blue Jays franchise history and the biggest since Sept. 28, 2000 (23-1 loss vs. Baltimore).
Toronto (41-47) heads into the break six games below .500 and last in the American League East Division.
“It’s going to take a great effort,” said Happ, who took the loss. “We’re going to have to find a way to climb out of there.”
Jose Altuve homered, scored four times and went 3 for 4 with three RBI’s for the Astros (60-29), who have won six of eight heading into the break.
George Springer scored twice and was 2 for 4, Yuli Gurriel went deep, scored twice and was 2 for 5 and Evan Gattis also hit a home run while going 2 for 5 with four RBI’s.
“Felt good at the plate today so hopefully I can carry that into the second half,” said Correa who is one of a club-record six Astros headed to Miami for Tuesday’s all-star game. “From one through nine (in) the lineup, we can do damage so today we showed what we’re capable of against a great pitcher like Happ.”
Happ (3-6), who had been rolling of late, went four innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking three.
“I’m certainly disappointed,” said Happ. “I wasn’t very crisp today and against that lineup especially you need to be so that was a bummer.”
Ezequiel Carrera broke Houston’s shutout with a ninth-inning home run for the Blue Jays.
Josh Donaldson’s second inning error proved costly for Toronto as the Astros scored five runs in the frame.
With Houston already leading 1-0, Gurriel homered before Donaldson’s throwing error allowed Springer to reach and a run to score. Altuve then took Happ’s first pitch over the right field wall for a two-run home run giving Houston a 4-0 lead. Correa followed it up with a solo home run off the face of the second deck for his 19th long ball of the season.
Houston added to its lead in the fourth as Correa’s RBI single gave the Astros a 6-0 lead.
Toronto threatened in the bottom half of the fourth as Justin Smoak, Troy Tulowitzki and Steve Pearce all walked to load the bases with one out. But Astros starter Brad Peacock got Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins to fly out to end the inning.
“I feel like we’ve been playing pretty good baseball as of late,” said Smoak who along with closer Roberto Osuna will represent the Blue Jays at the all-star game. “That team over there is really good and to get two wins against them is good.”
Peacock (7-1) tossed six scoreless innings allowing five hits while striking out four for his fourth consecutive win.
The Astros took a 9-0 lead in the sixth on a three-run home run from Gattis off Blue Jays reliever Lucas Harrell.
Another Donaldson error in the seventh sparked the Astros offence again. The Blue Jays third baseman bobbled a ground ball from Alex Bregman allowing Gurriel to reach second safely. Houston went on to add a six-spot capped by a three-run home run from Correa to take a 15-0 lead.
The Astros added four more runs in the ninth off reliever Joe Biagini.
Note: Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-2, 4.85 ERA) will get the first start out of the all-star break when Toronto opens a 10-game, 10-day, road trip in Detroit.