Blue Jays vs. Astros Series Preview: Can Manoah find his form?

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah delivers a pitch. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays will look for their fourth series win in a row when they entertain the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros this week at Rogers Centre.

Toronto has bounced back nicely since a 2-9 stretch against American League East rivals, winning series 2-1 against the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers before sweeping the New York Mets in a three-game series this past weekend.

The Blue Jays are 6-15 against the AL East this year, and 27-12 versus the rest of MLB.

Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Astros series.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (1-6, 5.46 ERA) vs. Houston RHP Brandon Bielak (2-2, 3.19 ERA), Sportsnet ONE

Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (4-3, 2.76 ERA) vs. Houston RHP Hunter Brown (5-2, 3.61 ERA), Sportsnet

Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Chris Bassitt (6-4, 3.41 ERA) vs. Houston RHP Ronel Blanco (1-0, 4.15 ERA), Sportsnet ONE

Thursday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (5-4. 3.66 ERA) vs. Houston LHP Framber Valdez, 6-4, 2.16 ERA), Sportsnet ONE

All games on Sportsnet NOW.

Latest on the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (33-27) are 4-0 in June after an 11-17 May.

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The sweep against the Mets saw the Jays prevail in three close games — 3-0, 2-1 and 6-4.

In Sunday’s finale, the red-hot Brandon Belt hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh to break a 4-4 tie.

Jordan Romano notched his third save in the past four games to finish it off after Nate Pearson couldn’t hold on to a 4-2 lead handed to him when starter Yusei Kikuchi exited in the sixth inning.

Vladmir Guerrero Jr. also hit his firs homer off a regular pitcher since May 4. He added a go-ahead double in the ninth inning on Saturday — and is showing signs of finding his rhythm.

The Blue Jays are fourth in the AL East, 8.5 games back of the MLB-leading Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto is 2.5 games back of the final wild-card spot, held by the New York Yankees.

Latest on the Astros

The Astros (35-24) fell one win short of a four-game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Angels after dropping a 2-1 decision on Sunday.

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Luis Rengifo broke rookie starter J.P France’s no-hit bid with a homer in the sixth before Shohei Ohtani had an RBI double in the eighth to win it for L.A.

Houston third baseman Alex Bregman had two hits to extend his hit streak to 11 games.

Meanwhile, Yordan Alvarez is tied for the MLB lead in RBI with 51.

The Astros are 3.5 games back of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers and also sit in the second wild-card position.

All Eyes on Manoah

Flipping the calendar from May to June has helped the Blue Jays as a whole.

Perhaps it will do the same for Manoah, who is in the midst of a terrible year after his breakout 2022 campaign.

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The Opening Day starter was lifted after four innings last time out against the Brewers as his pitch count had risen to 89 pitches. He was emotional after the game, trying to explain his struggles in the aftermath of an all-star 2022 season.

Manoah’s slider has lacked bite and control has been an issue for much of the year.

Altuve Update

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, an eight-time all-star and the 2017 AL MVP, has missed the past two games with an oblique issue after an awkward slide on Friday.

Before Sunday’s game, Astros manager Dusty Baker said Altuve is day to day.

Solid Arms

The Astros lead the majors with a team ERA of 3.22

Houston is currently rolling with a six-man rotation, which means Toronto will miss one of the Astros’ top starters in Cristian Javier (7-1, 2.84 ERA).

After Manoah on Monday, the Blue Jays have three starters coming off excellent outings in Gausman, Bassitt and Berrios.

Season Series

The Astros won two of three games against the visiting Blue Jays in April, notching blowout victories with Gausman and Berrios starting and losing 4-2 in a Bassitt start (6.1 innings, no runs, three hits).

Up Next

The Blue Jays host the AL Central-leading Twins in a three-game weekend series.

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