HOUSTON – Robinson Chirinos hit his first grand slam and finished with a career-high six RBIs, Gerrit Cole struck out 10 and the Houston Astros routed the Toronto Blue Jays 15-2 on Friday night.
After Toronto walked Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez on four pitches with the bases loaded, Chirinos cleared the bases with his 12th homer of the season off Thomas Pannone.
The Astros won their 13th straight series opener and improved to 9-3 in June.
Cole (6-5) allowed two runs and three hits while increasing his MLB-leading strikeout total to 140.
The Blue Jays’ runs came in the fifth inning. Cavan Biggio, son of Astros Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio, drew applause when he came to the plate. The younger Biggio doubled to deep centre field off Cole, scoring two runs. The elder Biggio cheered from the front row near the Houston dugout.
Both teams loaded the bases in the first inning. The results were starkly different for each of the starting pitchers. Cole escaped the inning with a strikeout. Sanchez, however, allowed back-to-back singles to Alvarez and Chirinos and a sacrifice fly to Josh Reddick, falling behind 3-0.
Alex Bregman extended Houston’s lead to 6-0 in the second inning with a three-run homer into the left-field Crawford Boxes, his 19th homer of the season.
Tony Kemp hit a two-run homer in the third inning that pushed the Astros’ lead to 8-0.
Sanchez (3-8) allowed eight runs on six hits and three walks before being replaced by Sam Gaviglio in the fourth inning. Sanchez’s eight runs allowed matched a career high from July 7, 2017, the last time he faced Houston.
Alvarez hit a two-run homer off Gaviglio, becoming the 20th player in MLB history to hit three home runs in his first four games and the first since Shohei Ohtani in 2018.
After being called up from Triple-A, Astros reliever Rogelio Armenteros held Toronto to two hits , striking out three in three innings and earning a save in his MLB debut.
Blue Jays: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. exited the game in the first inning after being hit by a 96 mph fastball from Gerrit Cole on the left hand. He stayed in the game as a baserunner before he was replaced by Eric Sogard at third base. The team announced that he suffered a left hand contusion and X-rays were negative.
Astros: CF Jake Marisnick left the game with left knee discomfort after an awkward play in the field in the fifth inning. … 2B José Altuve (left hamstring strain) went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and RHP Collin McHugh (right elbow discomfort) allowed a two-run home run and a walk in 2/3 inning on rehab assignments for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night. They joined C Max Stassi (left knee soreness), who began his rehab assignment Thursday night.
Blue Jays: LHP Clayton Richard (0-2, 7.04 ERA) will face the Astros on Saturday, making his fifth start of the season and still seeking his first win as a Blue Jay. Richard is 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA in three starts against Houston.
Astros: LHP Framber Valdez (2-2, 2.73) pitches Saturday against the Blue Jays, looking to build on his first start of the season on June 8 when he held Baltimore to one run in seven innings of a 4-1 loss in which he struck out seven with no walks and gave up five hits, including a solo homer.