It’s all coming up Astros these days.
Houston (25-13) held off some late Blue Jays rallies and used its patented home-run formula to down Toronto, 4-2, on Sunday and complete an impressive four-game sweep in Minute Maid Park.
Colby Rasmus launched the go-ahead home run in the seventh against his former team with a lined solo shot beyond the right-field fence, one day after keying a sixth inning comeback with a double.
“My focus was on helping my team rather than worry about [Toronto],” Rasmus said. “Just good vibes anyway around here right now. Got a changeup left up and it felt good to help us keep winning.”
Starter Collin McHugh bounced back from having his 11-decision winning streak snapped earlier in the week, wiggling out of some jams with nine strikeouts. He lasted seven innings and allowed just two runs to lower his ERA to 2.71 in 2015. The Astros are 14-2 in games started by McHugh or Dallas Keuchel this season.
“He was under duress almost every inning. I think the leadoff guy got on base like four of the first five innings,” said manager A.J. Hinch. “He really controlled the damage. Just a really effective outing with all his pitches. I was impressed with his perseverance.”
Luis Valbuena led off the scoring with his team-high 10th long ball of the season, looping a solo shot beyond the left-field wall in the first inning. The Astros upped their MLB-best home-run total to 57 through 38 games.
A pair of sacrifice flies in the ensuing innings handed the lead to the visitors, but McHugh limited the damage by avoiding the Blue Jays bats. Overall, he stranded six Toronto runners, four of them in scoring position.
Somewhat surprisingly, the unsung hero was Jonathan Villar, whose pair of doubles ultimately led to the winning margin. A fourth-inning two-bagger scored George Springer and tied the game at 2-2. After Rasmus reclaimed the lead, Villar led off the seventh with a double and eventually came home on Jake Marisnick’s sacrifice fly.
“He’s starting to catch his rhythm, certainly hitting right-handed has some strength to his swing,” Hinch said.
Luke Gregerson earned his second save in as many days with a scoreless ninth, though it was again shaky. He stranded a pair of runners one day after allowing a two-run homer in a 6-5 win. He now has 10 saves on the season, good for fifth in the American League.
The Astros have also won five in a row and hold a 7-6 record since that 10-game winning streak earlier this month. Houston also improved their home record to 13-9 this season.
With a 5.5 game division lead in tow, the Astros will host the last-place A’s for a three-game series starting Monday.