Dealing with key injuries, Blue Jays hope to cool off Astros

The Toronto Blue Jays will be dealing with injuries and uncertainty as they continue their four-game series with the visiting Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (right hand) and infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa (left knee) were both scratched from the lineup before the Blue Jays’ 3-1 loss to the Astros on Monday afternoon in the series opener.

Guerrero, who is on a seven-game hitting streak, was struck on the hand by a pitch in the third inning on Sunday against the New York Yankees. He was replaced by pinch hitter Davis Schneider in the eighth.

Guerrero had discomfort in two fingers during batting practice before the game on Monday.

“I hope (Tuesday) it’s going to be good,” Guerrero said.

Kiner-Falefa injured his knee during pregame stretches, and now Toronto is awaiting test results.

“Really popped up out of nowhere,” Toronto manager John Schneider said.

The Blue Jays cannot afford to be without either player for an extended period of time. They are 2-3 during an eight-game homestand and have lost 10 of their past 13.

Meanwhile, the Astros continued rolling on Monday with their 10th win in 11 games. They improved to 3-1 on their 10-game road trip thanks in part to homers from Yordan Alvarez and Jeremy Pena and six scoreless innings from Hunter Brown.

“We’ve been playing our brand of baseball,” Pena said. “We’ve been pitching really well, we’ve been playing good defense. We’ve been getting timely hits. That’s when we’re at our best.”

Over his past five outings, Brown is 5-0 with a 0.29 ERA. Monday marked his eighth consecutive quality start.

Toronto could not take advantage of a strong outing from right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, who allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings.

“This was the first time we’ve seen him,” Pena said. “He had really good stuff. I felt like he was locating pitches pretty well.”

The Blue Jays twice loaded the bases — in the second against Brown and in the eighth against Bryan Abreu — but came up empty both times.

“We just needed a hit in certain spots,” John Schneider said. “Twice, we loaded the bases with one out and couldn’t take advantage.”

Houston is scheduled to start right-hander Spencer Arrighetti (4-6, 5.68 ERA) on Tuesday. He has not faced Toronto in his career.

In his latest start, Arrighetti struck out a career-high 10 in seven scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday and came away with a win.

Toronto is planning on turning to right-hander Jose Berrios (7-6, 3.38). In 10 career starts against Houston, Berrios is 5-4 with a 3.93 ERA.

Berrios most recently earned a win against the Yankees, giving up two runs on two hits in seven innings on Thursday.

Houston’s turnaround after a slow start to the season is something Toronto is drawing inspiration from.

“They have good players and we do too,” John Schneider said. “(Kyle) Tucker, (Jose) Altuve, (Alex) Bregman, Alvarez, some contributions from Chas (McCormick), (Yainer) Diaz, they kind of all got going at the same time. We’ve struggled to do that with our guys at the same time.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking for, you reel off what they’ve done. And you need good pitching every day and you need a good bullpen every day. And they’ve done a good job of that.”

–Field Level Media