TORONTO — There are some games where it feels like the Toronto Blue Jays are taking years off of Charlie Montoyo's life.
Toronto's 6-4 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon was one of those games as starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and the Blue Jays bullpen issued nine walks and hit a batter against one of the most productive lineups in Major League Baseball. Before reporters could ask him a question at his post-game news conference Montoyo was talking about how much it stressed him out.
"I honestly aged like 10 years today," said Montoyo. "I'm glad we won, I really am. But nine walks and a hit-by-pitch against probably the best lineups in baseball? And we managed to minimize the damage?"
Montoyo then laughed and shook his head, taking off his cap to point at imaginary grey hairs on his temples.
Buchholz gave up only two runs on five walks and three hits while striking out three for his first win of the season. Tim Mayza, Derek Law, Buddy Boshers, Jordan Romano and Ken Giles came out of the bullpen, with Giles earning his 18th save of the season.
Mayza and Law each allowed a run, while the rest of the Blue Jays relievers were scoreless.
"It was a grind. I don't walk people normally," said Buchholz. "I would much rather walk a few of those guys rather than give in and throw a fastball right down the middle or hang a curveball."
Cavan Biggio led Toronto (55-82) with a two-run homer, Teoscar Hernandez added a two-run blast, and Bo Bichette had two hits, two runs, and a stolen base.
"I think the biggest thing I've been focusing on is being aggressive," said Biggio. "When I'm aggressive my timing's a lot better. When my timing's a lot better I see the ball a lot better."
Framber Valdez (4-7) also pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits but striking out five for the Astros (88-49). Joe Smith and Cy Sneed combined 2 2/3 scoreless inning.
Alex Bregman opened the scoring for Houston in the first inning when his sacrifice fly to deep left field gave George Springer ample time to run home.
Randal Grichuk's RBI single plated Biggio in the third inning to tie it up 1-1 in the third inning. Grichuk advanced to second as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., tried to run from first to third but was put out on the play.
In the next at bat, Hernandez hit a high, looping shot that sailed into the Blue Jays' bullpen to make it 3-1. Brandon Drury followed that up with a single to shallow centre field, forcing a mound meeting.
Biggio sent a 1-0 pitch from Valdez over the right-field fence in the fourth inning, bringing Bichette home with him for a 5-1 lead. Biggio's father Craig spent all 20 years of his Hall of Fame career with the Astros and is still a member of the club's front office.
"I'm not going to lie, he definitely wants them to win," said the younger Biggio with a smile. "But he wants me to do well too. We're going to try and give it to them for years to come, so it's going to be a split house."
Yuli Gurriel replied in the sixth inning, banging a double off the left-field wall. Derek Fisher scrambled to retrieve the ball as it bounced along the outfield turf, scoring Bregman and Yordan Alvarez.
Bichette got another run in the bottom of the sixth, sprinting home after Biggio's double to right field. Bichette had reached base on a single then stolen second to put himself in scoring position.
After loading the bases Law walked Bregman, cutting Toronto's lead to 6-4. That brought on Boshers, who struck out Alvarez to escape the inning.
Giles struck out Springer, former American League MVP Jose Altuve and Bregman to end the game.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press