Blue Jays designated hitter George Springer didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the Astros fans who cheered him before his first plate appearance Saturday, his first in Houston following seven standout seasons with the Astros prior to his signing with Toronto following the 2020 season.

Springer hit his first home run against his former club, his third of the season and the 199th of his career as the Blue Jays claimed the three-game series with a 3-2 victory Saturday. Toronto improved to 4-0-1 in series this season and will seek the series sweep over Houston on Sunday.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Springer said of the leadoff homer, the 45th of his career. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s weird. It’s cool at the same time. But I’m just glad I can help us win.”

The Blue Jays improved to 4-1 on their six-game trip and have won 10 of their first 15 games for the eighth time in club history and the first time since 2018. A sweep would keep the good times rolling.

“It obviously would be big for us,” Springer said. “That’s a great baseball team over there, so to come in and win the first two is huge. But it’s on to (Sunday).”

Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 3.24 ERA) will start the series finale for the Blue Jays.

He faced the Astros six times last season while pitching for the Seattle Mariners, going 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA. He is 1-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 career starts against Houston, his most against any opponent.

Kikuchi allowed one run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts over five innings in his previous outing on April 19, a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in which he did not factor into the decision. His two prior starts this season also were on the road.

Right-hander Luis Garcia (1-0, 2.79) is the scheduled starter for Houston on Sunday.

He faced the Blue Jays once during his rookie season in 2021, allowing one run on three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 6-3 road victory on June 6.

Garcia earned the victory in his previous start on April 18, surrendering three runs on four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in an 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The Astros fell to 1-3 in one-run games and have dropped two in succession to open the series against the Blue Jays. After laboring through a season-opening nine-game trip, the Astros are just 1-4 on their first homestand of the season and will take a four-game skid into the finale.

“It’s frustrating to lose one-run games, especially when you’re getting good pitching,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “You’ve just got to keep on battling. That’s all you can do.”

–Field Level Media