Houston prospect George Springer homered twice and drove in five runs as Toronto Blue Jays pitching took its lumps in a sloppy 10-1 spring training loss to the Astros on Wednesday.
Right-hander Justin Germano, with two innings of scoreless relief, was the best of the Toronto pitchers on the day.
The Jays, who led the majors with a 24-7 spring record last year, slipped to 2-4. Houston improved to 3-2 on a sunny afternoon before 2,691 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia hit his first homer of the spring, drilling Wesley Wight’s first pitch in the third over the centre-field fence to reduce Houston’s lead to 4-1. Arencibia also threw out two Astros trying to steal third.
Springer, a 23-year-old centre-fielder ranked 37th on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, hit a three-run shot in the fourth and a two-run blast in the fifth. He was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
The six-foot-three 200-pounder has not played above double-A ball other than in spring training.
Jays starter Brad Lincoln didn’t survive the first inning, giving up three runs on four hits and a Melky Cabrera error. He gave way to Vancouver right-hander Trystan Magnuson, who promptly gave up another double before registering a strikeout to end a four-run Astros first inning.
Lincoln threw 24 pitches, 12 for strikes.
Germano restored some order on the Jays mound in the second inning, striking out the Astros in order. Germano, who signed a minor-league contract with the Jays in the off-season after stints with the Padres, Indians, Reds, Cubs and Red Sox, struck out four in his two innings work.
But the Astros feasted on the next Jays pitcher, with Jeremy Jeffress giving up four straight hits — including Springer’s three-run shot — and a wild pitch before his first out of the fourth.
Houston led 7-1 after four and increased the lead to 10-1 in the fifth on Fernando Martinez’s RBI double and Springer’s homer off Claudio Vargas.
Toronto’s Alex Hinshaw pitched his way out of the seventh after a walk, hit batter and Mike McCoy error at shortstop loaded the bases. In the eighth, Tommy Hottovy escaped Astros on second and third.
Toronto loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth but was unable to profit.
Right-fielder Moises Sierra and catcher Josh Thole combined to get Houston’s Trevor Crowe at the plate in the ninth as he tried to reach home from second on a Marc Krauss single.
Starter Alex White made his debut for Houston, giving up just one hit in two scoreless innings. He threw 25 pitches, 14 for strikes.
White went 2-9 with Colorado last season with a 5.51 ERA before being traded to Houston in December for reliever Wilton Lopez.
NOTES — A tough day for singer Jeff Fuller at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, who flubbed both the U.S. and Canadian anthems. He tried to restart “O Canada” but the crowd continued without him. The disconsolate singer did get to shake hands with a sympathetic Jays manager John Gibbons afterwards … Brandon Morrow starts against the Yankees Thursday in Tampa. J.A. Happ, who broke Curtis Granderson’s forearm with a pitch Sunday, is also slated to see action … Pitcher Mark Buehrle briefly showed off Slater, his infamous pit bull, outside the Jays clubhouse. Slater, along with the Buehrle family, is skipping the season in Toronto due to Ontario’s anti-pit bull regulations.