HOUSTON (AP) — The normally stoic Charlie Morton actually cracked a smile after he was reminded that his stellar outing gave him 10 wins for just the third time in his 11-year career.
However, the Houston right-hander was quick to point out that he wouldn’t have such success without help from his teammates, a fact that was on display on Tuesday.
Morton (10-1) struck out 13 in seven innings, Jake Marisnick hit a three-run homer in the eighth after preserving the shutout with a big defensive play in the sixth as the Astros got a 7-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
He scattered four hits and walked two for his third straight win to become Houston’s first 10-game winner.
“I didn’t even think about that,” he said of reaching 10 wins for the second straight year. “Yeah, that’s a lot. That’s good. Honestly the wins, that’s a team thing. I give most of the credit to the guys in there.”
Toronto manager John Gibbons raved about Morton.
“Morton is in a class of his own,” he said. “He’s in an elite group now. He wasn’t giving us much.”
Evan Gattis put Houston up with a two-run single in the fifth. Marisnick padded the lead with his shot to left field with one out in the eighth and Alex Bregman, who tied a career-high with four hits, added a two-run homer with two outs in the inning for his second straight game with a home run.
Marisnick’s homer came after he dazzled on defense two innings earlier. Teoscar Hernandez singled with two outs in the sixth before Yangervis Solarte drew a walk. Marisnick then robbed Justin Smoak of extra bases when he leaped and bounced off the wall in left-center to grab his fly ball.
“It’s a close game and everything that was on the line with that play ... the game is completely different if he doesn’t make that catch,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Marisnick, who routinely makes tough catches, said that it was definitely in the top-5 in his career and joked about jumping significantly higher than left fielder Josh Reddick on the play.
“I’m going to get a poster made of that with Reddick a little bit lower than me,” he said.
Toronto’s Ryan Borucki (0-1) had a solid start in his major league debut, allowing six hits and two runs while walking four with three strikeouts in six innings.
“I thought he was fantastic against a great hitting ballclub,” Gibbons said. “They put the pressure on him, and he didn’t cave.”
Chris Devenski struck out one in the eighth and Hector Rondon allowed one hit in the ninth to give Houston its seventh shutout this season.
The Blue Jays couldn’t do anything against Morton early as he struck out the side in the first before walking Smoak to start the second. But Smoak was caught stealing and Morton struck out the next two batters to allow him to face the minimum through two.
The last two batters in the second inning were the first of 10 straight retired by Morton, capped by five strikeouts in a row. Russell Martin gave Toronto its first hit on a single with two outs in the fifth and Randal Grichuk followed with a broken-bat single, but Aledmys Diaz grounded out to end the inning.
Bregman, who hit three doubles, doubled with one out in the fifth before Jose Altuve drew a walk. Both players advanced on a wild pitch with two outs before the Astros made it 2-0 on the double to left-center by Gattis.
Houston catcher Brian McCann was shaken up when Solarte hit him on the helmet on his backswing in the sixth inning. McCann was checked out by the team trainer before staying in the game.
Blue Jays: INF Josh Donaldson, who has been on the disabled list since June 1 because of calf tightness, strained his left calf while preparing to play in a rehabilitation game for Class A Dunedin on Tuesday. An MRI revealed the acute strain and the team said he’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks. ... LHP Jaime Garcia (sore left shoulder) will see a specialist on Thursday before returning to Florida to continue his rehabilitation.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa got a game off on Tuesday as he deals with what Hinch said is “a little bit of back stiffness.” Hinch said Correa was OK and the day off was more for rest than anything else. ... RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) will throw one more bullpen before beginning a rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
ONE CITY, TWO MVPs
Altuve took a minute on Tuesday to congratulate Houston Rockets’ star James Harden for winning his first MVP trophy a night before. Altuve, who was named MVP for the first time last season, thinks it’s cool that Houston now has two MVPs.
“It was well-deserved ... I would have been mad if he didn’t win it,” Altuve said.
Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 3.90 ERA) opposes Marco Estrada (4-7, 4.48) when these teams wrap up the series on Wednesday. Keuchel hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts and Estrada allowed just three hits and two runs in seven innings in his last start but took the loss in a 2-1 defeat by the Angels.