As a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers, Ross Stripling is no fan of the Houston Astros, thanks to their controversial World Series win over his team that fall.
Those memories didn’t grow any fonder on Friday night as Stripling lasted just 3.2 innings for the Blue Jays and took the loss in a 10-4 blowout Astros victory at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
Since then, Stripling has been sharply critical of the Astros sign-stealing scandal that resulted in several sanctions to the American. League West team.
On Friday, the Astros worked him deep into counts on multiple occasions on their way to the lopsided result on a rough night for the Toronto pitching staff.
Stripling acknowledged that returning to the scene of the crime — so to speak — wasn’t an easy task mentally.
“Certainly there’s more to it than just what transpired from that and the relationship between the Astros and Dodgers,” Stripling said in a post-game Zoom call. “All of that comes into it for sure, but I was trying not to think of it and take a step forward from it.
“But they’re all really good players. If I make (the past), then I’ve got the weight of the 2017 World Series on me and trying to get through that lineup would probably have caused more issues than that.”
The big damage came in a three-run second inning which was highlighted by a two-run Carlos Correa homer. Stripling allowed six hits and three walks as his pitch count climbed to 82 by the time manager Charlie Montoyo replaced him with Tim Mayza in the fourth.
Stripling acknowledged that he has to be sharper, particularly if he wants to remain a part of the rotation.
“I wasn’t very sharp tonight, even warming up,” Stripling said. “Everything’s got to be a little sharper if I’m going to keep my job and be a starter in the big leagues. Not a lot to build off on this one, really.”
Montoyo wasn’t about to take issue with Stripling’s own assessment of his most recent outings.
“I agree with him on that,” Montoyo said. “He’s got to give us more than that, but we still believe in him. He hasn’t been as sharp, but he’s got the stuff to do it.
“The one thing he did was he kept us in the game with no command.”
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Jays, who saw their record drop to 16-15.
The Jays offence looked to be picking up where it off after a 10-run outburst in Oakland on Thursday when Bo Bichette blasted a solo homer in the first – his team-leading eighth of the season.
But other than catcher Danny Jansen’s second homer in as many games — another solo effort in the fourth — the Jays weren’t able to gain any traction against Astros starter Jose Urquidy, who allowed four hits in his seven innings.
With the game well out of reach, Teoscar Hernandez added a two-run homer in the ninth.
It was a big night for one of the Gurriel brothers, but not the Jays left fielder Lourdes. Instead, big bro Yuli had a huge night, belting out four hits including a two-run homer that exited Minute Maid over the head of Lourdes.
The younger Gurriel did have his moment, however, with a double play to end the sixth when he made the catch of a fly ball in left and then, flat-footed, gunned down Myles Shaw at the plate with a laser throw.
The Jays will attempt to even up the three-game series on Saturday when they send Steven Matz to the mound to face the Astros’ Cristian Javier.
With the game out of reach, Montoyo decided to get some work for reliever Rafael Dolis, who came in to pitch the eighth, but it didn’t end well.
After allowing his first two runners on base, the slow-moving Dolis bent over in pain and following a mound visit from Montoyo and trainer Jose Minstral, was removed from the game during the middle of an at-bat to Alex Bregman.
After the game, Montoyo said that the preliminary diagnosis is right calf tightness and Dolis will have an MRI on Saturday to determine the severity.
That brought in Ryan Borucki, the sixth Jays pitcher to see action on the night.
AROUND THE BASES
Jansen on his recent success at the plate: “I’ve been putting a lot of work in. I feel like I’ve made some adjustments, with my mind as well as in my approach.” … The Jays, who have won nine of their past 14 games, failed in their bid to move three games above .500 for the first time this season … Recipe for a lopsided loss: It wasn’t the strongest night for Jays pitchers, who allowed 15 Astros hits and five walks.