Astros blast past Jays 8-2

Brett Oberholtzer #39 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the third inning of their game...

Brett Oberholtzer #39 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the third inning of their game with the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on August 2, 2014 in Houston, Texas. Scott Halleran/Getty Images/AFP

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 PM ET

HOUSTON — They opened the lid last night to make things difficult for R.A. Dickey.

That was the rumour anyway.

Minute Maid Park is kept closed when the temperature is 30 degrees or higher but last night with the thermometer at 26 at game time, the roof was peeled back.

It was an oddity as it marked the first time since 2004 the roof has been open in August. Whether it was a ploy or just a case of airing the park out on a pleasant summer evening, take your pick.

Whatever the reason it worked as the Astros drilled three home runs and 13 hits to win for the second night in a row, this time by an 8-2 margin.

It wasn’t so much a shaky knuckleball to the plate that sank Dickey’s fortunes as much as it was an ill-advised pickoff attempt at first in the fifth.

With the game tied 2-2, speedy Jose Altuve, the Eddie Gaedel of the Astros, was at first and being the leading base stealer in the league, Dickey was looking to keep him close.

Dickey’s attempted pickoff throw, though, was wide and sailed up the line resulting in Altuve to motor to third no problem. Danny Valencia, manning first, compounded the problem by firing across the diamond to third but his throw bounced by Steve Tolleson allowing Altuve time to pick himself up, dust himself off and whiz to the plate with the go-ahead run.

One out later, Chris Carter pounded a home run to left and that proved to be enough.

In the eighth, the Jays had a two-run homer by Juan Francisco taken away thanks to a great leap and catch by right fielder Robbie Grossman.

In the bottom of the frame, Jason Castro nailed a two-run homer to left followed by a two-run, inside-the-park homer by Jon Singleton to centre. Both were hit off Brett Cecil and they were the first two home runs the left-hander has surrendered this season.

The loss for the Jays leaves them 6-3 on the trip and they will be looking to even the series against Houston Sunday afternoon with Marcus Stroman on the mound.

After the Jays opened the game with a 1-0 lead, Dickey, 9-11, gave it right back as Altuve led off for the Astros with a double into the left field corner.

One strikeout later, Carter came to the plate and on a 1-1 pitch believed he had been hit. Home plate ump Jordan Barker disagreed sending Carter back to the box and he promptly ripped a RBI double to left. With two out, Singleton singled him home.

The Jays tied it 2-2 in the third thanks to Anthony Gose’s legs and Jose Bautista’s bat.

Gose opened the inning with a walk and two outs later Bautista was at the plate. Bautista laced a double into the gap in left centre and Gose, taking off on contact, circled the bases and breezed to the plate without drawing a throw.

QUICK STRIKE

Jose Reyes opened the game with an arcing ball to left that Marc Krauss gave up on early as he drifted back and then turned to play it off the scoreboard. The ball hit the wall about four feet up which meant that Krauss should have had an easy play on it. Instead, Reyes had an easy double. Melky Cabrera then surprised everybody by dropping a perfect bunt down the third-base line. By the time starter Brett Oberholtzer picked up the ball, Cabrera was scooting across first with the single putting runners on the corners.

The single by Cabrera extended his hit streak to 10 games.

After Bautista struck out, Nolan Reimold scored Reyes on a sac fly to centre.

BOTTOMS UP

The Jays have not fared well against left-handed starters this season as heading into the game they were 14-15 compared to a 46-36 record against righties.

The struggles against lefties becomes greater when R.A. Dickey starts as that means the light-hitting Josh Thole is behind the plate. At second manager John Gibbons has the option of either Munenori Kawasaki or Ryan Goins — both left-handed hitters — and either Colby Rasmus or Anthony Gose — again both left-handed hitters — for centre field.

For last night’s game, the bottom of the order had Thole, Goins and Gose — hardly a Murder’s Row.

This season, Thole has had the best success facing lefties of the trio as he is batting .333 (9-for-27) but does not have an extra-base hit or RBI.

Gose is hitting lefties at a .229 clip with one RBI while Goins is limping along with a .158 average and two RBIs.

So, the bottom three hitters in the lineup came into the game having a combined three RBIs against left-handers this season.

That places a lot of pressure on the other six hitters in the lineup.

CATCHING FIRE

When Thole starts that means Dioner Navarro sits and lately that means taking a hot bat out of the lineup.

Coming into Saturday’s game, Navarro had hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games for a .352 (25-for-71) average with five doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and a .949 OPS. Over that span he has had eight multi-hit games including three games with three or more hits. On the road trip, Navarro is batting .379 (11-for-29) with six RBIs.


Videos

Photos