HOUSTON — Toronto’s Randal Grichuk put on a show for hundreds of friends and family that made the trek up to Houston to see him play just his third career game at a ballpark only about 35 miles from his hometown of Rosenberg, Texas.
Grichuk hit a two-run homer and made a huge defensive play, helping the Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros 6-3 on Monday.
"You can’t feel your body all game," Grichuk said. "You feel like you don’t need to stretch or get loose. It’s just as special for me as I know it is for my family."
His soaring 471-foot home run, which clanged off the light pole above the train tracks on the left-field wall, came against Will Harris and made it 6-3 with two out in the eighth.
Grichuk then reached over the short wall in right field to rob George Springer of a homer with two on and no outs in the ninth.
"Those are the plays you dream of that you don’t really get too often," he said. "But exactly what you hope for happened."
Grichuk, who moved from centre to right field in the bottom of the ninth, had his back to the wall when he reached between two fans with gloves to make the grab.
Springer stopped running and bent down in disbelief when he realized Grichuk had robbed him.
"Baseball can be pretty cruel," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That’s a tough one. Right off the bat, I thought George got one. It carried and carried and carried and looked like he had to go pretty deep into the stands to get it."
Granderson’s leadoff shot in the fifth tied it at 3. He connected again with two out in the seventh, belting an opposite-field drive off Verlander (9-3) into the second row in the Crawford Boxes in left field.
"I’m not a huge fan of the Crawford Boxes right now," Verlander said. "The one to right, I thought Curtis got pretty good. The one to left, I didn’t think he got that one very good. But it’s the ballpark we play in. It’s fair for all sides. I need to do a little bit better job."
Verlander, who entered with a major league-best 1.60 ERA, allowed four runs and seven hits — both season highs — in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two in his first loss since May 11.
Toronto’s J.A. Happ (10-3) yielded three runs and seven hits in six innings in his sixth straight win. Seung-hwan Oh worked the ninth for his second save.
Alex Bregman homered in the Astros’ third loss in 18 games.
Hernandez singled with one out in the first before Yangervis Solarte drew a walk. Smoak’s two-out double lifted Toronto to a 2-0 lead.
Yuli Gurriel singled in Jose Altuve in the bottom half, and Bregman’s drive to the seats in left tied it at 2 with one out in the third.
Bregman also singled in Jake Marisnick in the fourth, but the Blue Jays tied it up again when Granderson sent the third pitch of the fifth inning into the stands in right for his eighth homer this season.
Astros: RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) felt good after throwing a bullpen on Sunday and will throw one more bullpen before likely beginning a rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (bruised finger on right hand) has less swelling and discomfort and will start playing catch in the next few days.
WHERE DID IT GO?
Granderson hit a foul pop in the first inning that got stuck in the park’s rafters. Catcher Max Stassi threw off his mask and looked up as he waited for it to come down, but it never did. Bregman soon trotted to the plate and started looking up to see where it was, too. Verlander held his glove over the top of his head for a few seconds, jokingly protecting himself if it happened to drop near him. Granderson and the trio of Astros then laughed, and Granderson got back in the box to resume his at-bat.
"I still have no idea what happened on that," Granderson said. "I’ve never hit a ball that high before."
Charlie Morton (9-1, 2.77 ERA) pitches for Houston on Tuesday, looking for his 10th win. Morton allowed just two hits and one unearned run in six innings of a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay in his last outing. The Blue Jays have yet to announce their Tuesday starter.