After climbing 10 games over .500 and within striking distance of the playoffs, the Astros seem to have turned off the lights on offense and dropped seven of their past nine. That includes a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays Wednesday night where Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista blasted three solo homers while Houston's offense just looked blasted yet again.
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Donaldson ripped a homer to right off Collin McHugh in the fourth. In the sixth, Bautista went deep to left then Donaldson hit an encore shot just beyond the reach of Colby Rasmus in right for a 3-0 lead.
Marco Estrada stymied the Astros for the first five frames before Marwin Gonzalez and Jose Altuve spanked back-to-back doubles for Houston's only run. Gonzalez returned after missing close to a week with a sore hand.
The Astros had another scoring chance in the eighth against Joe Biagini. Jake Marisnick cracked a double and George Springer reached on an error. After Gonzalez bunted over the runners, Altuve reached at the first pitch and lofted a fly to right that was too shallow to get the run home. Next, Carlos Correa was caught looking to end the threat.
Astro pitchers allowed just seven hits and struck out 14 but Toronto allowed just five hits.
The Astros continued playing roster roulette as Lance McCullers went on the 15-day disabled list for elbow inflammation, joining Luke Gregerson who was DL'd the day before. Doug Fister started his paternity leave. So up came A.J. Reed for a second try, James Hoyt to help out the bullpen and veteran Brad Peacock who has tried winning a job on the Houston staff since 2013.
Hoyt went right to work with an inning of shutout relief. Hoyt was a throw-in to the trade that brought Evan Gattis from Atlanta.
The Rangers lost again so the Astros are still 5-1/2 games in arrears in the AL West. Houston is now three games back of Detroit for the final wild card spot.
Houston will try to split the series with the Blue Jays on Thursday night at 7:10 Central. Former Astro J.A. Happ (14-3) is having a great season and will toss his lefthanded junk against the fairly average junk of Mike Fiers (7-4). Since Houston traded him during the 2013 season, Happ has crafted a 44-31 record while kicking around with the Jays, Mariners and Pirates.
- Bob Hulsey