DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki each hit towering home runs to lead the Toronto Blue Jays past the Houston Astros 7-2 on Friday.
Making his first exhibition start in right field, Bautista connected off Doug Fister in the third for a three-run shot that landed in a patch of trees far beyond the left-field fence. Fister gave up a single to A.J. Jimenez and walked AL MVP Josh Donaldson to set up Bautista’s second drive of the spring with one out.
“Those guys are good hitters,” Fister said. “They do what they do and take the bad pitches and hit them out. It was a bad pitch. It wasn’t a bad-called pitch, it was a poorly-executed one.”
Tulowitzki went deep against reliever Jandel Gustave in the fifth, driving a solo shot past the scoreboard in left-centre field.
Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez, vying for a spot in the starting rotation, gave up one run in 4 2-3 innings on a sacrifice fly by prospect Tyler White.
Sanchez struck out five and walked two.
“I said this since I got to spring training, I’m going to go out there and execute pitches, worry about what I need to do to get better,” he said. “At the end of the day, I feel like if I continue to do those things, everything is going to shake out the way it should and that gives them the best read on what they feel is the right decision.”
Astros: Fister, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract in January after spending the last two seasons with Washington, was roughed up for five runs and six hits before being lifted with two outs in the fourth. He walked one and struck out three.
“Obviously, (there is) a lot of room for growth,” Fister said. “That kind of keeps me in line for my spring. I have to go through it every day and face those hiccups every day, be able to come back tomorrow and know that I’ve got some work to do and get back in the bullpen a couple days later.”
Toronto reassigned OF Dalton Pompey, LHPs Scott Diamond and Wade LeBlanc and INF Matt Dominguez to minor league camp before the game. The 23-year-old Pompey won the starting job in centre field out of spring training last year, but struggled with a .193 average in 91 plate appearances before being demoted to Triple A.
“(He) could probably be on this team, but he needs to be playing every day,” manager John Gibbons said. “He needs to be down there every day, he needs to force his way back in here and once he gets here, he never looks back.”
EASY DOES IT
Veteran left-hander Randy Choate quickly retired Luis Valbuena on a grounder to first baseman Justin Smoak to close out the sixth in his Toronto debut. The 40-year-old Choate signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays last Friday and is competing for a spot in the bullpen. If he makes the big league roster, Choate is due a $1 million salary and $105,000 if assigned to the minors.
Astros: Wandy Rodriguez will get his second start Sunday against the Phillies in Clearwater. Blue Jays: Gavin Floyd will make his third start Saturday against the Phillies in Dunedin.