The Houston Astros kept rolling on the road and moved to the brink of their second straight AL West title.
Brian McCann and Josh Reddick hit back-to-back home runs, and the Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Monday night to close in on another division crown.
The defending World Series champions reduced their magic number to two over Oakland to clinch the division — which would set up a best-of-five postseason matchup against AL Central champion Cleveland. The Athletics, who played later in Seattle, wrapped up at least a wild-card playoff spot when Tampa Bay lost 4-1 to the New York Yankees.
“The A’s are a good team,” left-hander Dallas Keuchel said. “We don’t expect them to go down without a fight.”
Houston has the best road record in baseball at 53-22, matching last year’s club mark for the most wins away from home in a single season.
The Astros are 99-57 overall and a major league-best 17-4 in September.
“Everybody is really excited about us closing in on 100 wins and closing in on a division title,” infielder Alex Bregman said, “but there’s only one thing on our mind and that’s winning the World Series again.”
Keuchel (12-11) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings for his first win since Sept. 3 against Minnesota. He also reached 200 innings for the third time, after doing so in 2014 and 2015.
“It means more to me now than it did the first time,” Keuchel said.
Five relievers followed before former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna came on to a chorus of boos in the ninth, his first appearance in Toronto since being arrested for assault in May. Osuna, who earned his 19th save in 20 opportunities, was traded to the Astros on July 30. Many in the crowd of 23,463 jeered each of Osuna’s pitches.
“He wanted the ball like he always does,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “I’m sure it was emotional for him.”
Asked about the fan reaction, Hinch said it was “pretty expected.”
Osuna declined to speak on the advice of his lawyer. His case resumes Tuesday in Toronto.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called it “weird” to see Osuna on the mound at Rogers Centre wearing a different uniform.
“Kind of mixed emotions but I knew there was a good chance he was probably going to get it done,” Gibbons said. “I’ve seen him do it too many times.”
In the first big league meeting between brothers Yuli Gurriel and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Houston’s Yuli opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first.
Younger brother Lourdes grounded into a double play in the bottom of the inning, then exited the game because of a sore left hamstring. Yangervis Solarte came on to play third, with Aledmys Diaz moving to shortstop.
McCann belted a second-deck drive off Marco Estrada to begin the second, his sixth homer of the season and first since returning from the disabled list Sept. 1 after missing two months because of a right knee injury.
Four pitches later, Reddick homered, his 16th. It was the sixth time this season the Astros have gone back-to-back.
Bregman made it 4-0 with an RBI double in the third, but the Blue Jays answered with Kevin Pillar’s two-run homer in the fourth, his 15th.
Solarte cut it to 4-3 with an RBI single in the fifth after a throwing error by third baseman J.D. Davis. Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out but Keuchel ended his outing by striking out Justin Smoak, getting Randal Grichuk to ground into a fielder’s choice and then fanning Pillar.
“It seemed like it was destined to implode right there,” Keuchel said. “I was just trying to make as many quality pitches as I could.”
Estrada (7-14) lost his fifth straight decision, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“The long ball got him and that’s where he’s vulnerable,” Gibbons said.
Estrada has served up a team-high 29 home runs.
Bregman has reached safely in 52 consecutive road games, the longest streak in Astros history. Jeff Bagwell did it in 51 straight from 1998-99.
Astros: RHP Charlie Morton, who left Sunday’s game after one inning because of a sore shoulder, returned home to be with his wife, who is about to give birth. Hinch said Morton will be re-evaluated when he rejoins the team in Baltimore this weekend. … SS Carlos Correa (back) was held out of the lineup for the fifth straight game and is expected to sit again Tuesday, Hinch said. … RHP Lance McCullers Jr. was activated from the disabled list and will pitch in relief over the final week of the regular season. McCullers has been out since Aug. 4 because of a sore elbow. … The Astros recalled LHP Reymin Guduan from Triple-A.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez missed his scheduled start after leaving the team last weekend to have his troublesome right index finger examined by a specialist. Sanchez missed 54 games earlier this season because of the injury, which happened when Sanchez’s finger got caught in a suitcase hours before a June 21 road start against the Angels. He’s made five starts since returning Aug. 25.
Astros RHP Josh James (1-0, 2.81 ERA) faces Blue Jays RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-8, 5.18) on Tuesday. James pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings to beat Seattle for his first career win last Tuesday. Gaviglio is winless in four starts.
Source: The Associated Press