Red-hot Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays face Astros in rubber match

MLB

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will try to add to a productive homestand that ends Sunday afternoon when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Houston Astros at Buffalo in the rubber match of a three-game series.

The Blue Jays first baseman went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run Saturday to help the Blue Jays even the series with a 6-2 victory.

Guerrero is batting .533 (8-for-15) with two home runs and five RBIs as the Blue Jays have gone 3-1 with one game left on their first homestand of the season at Buffalo. They played their first 21 home games at Dunedin, Fla.

The home run was his 18th of the season — 13 in home games.

Guerrero also played well in the field Saturday, throwing out Jose Altuve at third on Carlos Correa’s infield single.

“One play always makes a big difference,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “To me, that made a big difference in this game because of what happened last night. All of a sudden there’s two base hits, Altuve at third base, top of the lineup they score and it’s, ‘Here we go again.’ To make that play was huge in this game.”

The Astros won 13-1 on Friday night.

“Whatever I have to do for the team to win, I’ll do that,” Guerrero said through a team translator. “I’m willing to do anything, defensively or offensively. If, for some reason, I make an error, I’ll keep my head up and try to keep helping the team. It’s all about winning here.”

“The way he’s playing first and the way he’s hitting, he’s one of the best players in baseball right now,” Montoyo said.

The Blue Jays will start left-hander Steven Matz (6-2, 4.22 ERA) Sunday as they try for a split of the six-game season series between the teams. His only career meeting with Houston came May 8 and he earned the win, giving up eight hits and three earned runs in five innings.

The Astros will start right-hander Luis Garcia (4-3, 2.89). He has never faced the Blue Jays.

Houston lost utility player Aledmys Diaz in the fourth inning Saturday when he was hit by Ross Stripling’s pitch on the left hand. Diaz started in left field. Astros manager Dusty Baker said Diaz was taken for imaging and that there would be no update until Sunday.

Houston’s regular left fielder Michael Brantley (hamstring) has been on the injured list and has not played since May 23. Baker said that he hopes Brantley will be back for Tuesday when the Astros open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox as their nine-game road trip continues.

“We certainly miss him and his bat and leadership,” Baker said. “He’s been playing great defense.”

Altuve was 2-for-4 Saturday, his 21st multi-hit game this season.

He has adapted to batting leadoff, replacing George Springer, who signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent in the offseason. Springer (quadriceps) is close to returning from the injured list.

Altuve said that leading off is different.

“Sometimes you go out here and swing at the first pitch, but sometimes, I feel like I need to take pitches and let the boys see what the (pitcher) has,” he said. “The main thing is trying to get on base.”

–Field Level Media

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