June 26 (UPI) — Randal Grichuk had a series of game-changing plays in a Toronto Blue Jays win against the Houston Astros.
The Blue Jays outfielder smoked his ninth home run of the season, while also keeping a shot from Astros star George Springer from going over the fence. Both plays came late in the Jays’ 6-3 triumph Monday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Grichuk’s long ball came first. The five-year veteran was at the plate in the top of the eighth frame facing Astros reliever Will Harris. Toronto held a 4-3 edge when he stepped into the box. Grichuk took a curveball for a ball on Harris’ first offering. He then hacked at a 92.2-mph cutter, sending it very deep to left center field for a two-run home run.
The ball traveled 471 feet and was the longest home run at Minute Maid Park since 2015, according to Statcast. It had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph.
Grichuk’s blast gave the Jays some insurance, but it was his ninth inning snag which truly secured the victory.
The Astros trailed 6-3 entering the bottom of the final frame. Tony Kemp began the inning by taking a walk. Josh Reddick followed with a single, moving Kemp to second base. Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, then walked up to the plate to face Jays reliever Seunghwan Oh.
The right-handed pitcher quickly went up 0-2 on Springer, before throwing a ball. He tossed in a 92.2-mph fastball with his fourth offering. Springer smoked the pitch to right field, but Grichuk was waiting.
Grichuk ran to the warning track before perfectly timing a jump. He jabbed up his gloved left hand and snagged the baseball, denying a game-tying three-run home run. Grichuk also gunned in a throw to the infield, keeping Kemp from getting to third base.
Oh struck out Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve to end the game and earn his second save of the season. Grichuk finished his day 1-for-4 at the plate, with two RBIs and a run scored. Curtis Granderson hit two home runs in the win for the Jays.