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Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reacts on an inside pitch during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The Astros won 9-2 on April 17, 2023.Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer in Houston’s seven-run first inning, and the Astros beat Kevin Gausman and the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 on Monday night.

Meyers and Corey Julks each finished with two hits and three RBIs for Houston, which dropped two of three against Texas over the weekend. Cristian Javier (2-0) pitched five innings of one-run ball.

“It allowed me to get a little more confidence and stay calm,” Javier said of the early lead. “Even though I allowed that one run, I knew we still had a pretty good lead there.”

Jose Abreu sparked Houston’s fast start with a two-run double. After Kyle Tucker walked and Jeremy Pena reached on catcher interference by Danny Jansen, Julks made it 4-0 with another two-run double.

Meyers then hit a drive to right for his first homer of the season, capping the seven-run first.

“They’ve been working hard at it – trying to get their strokes, find their strokes and keep their strokes,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That was big. We haven’t had a first inning like that in a long time. We always talk about jumping them early and we finally did it.”

Gausman (1-2) was charged with eight runs, seven earned, and seven hits in 4⅔ innings. He struck out five and walked two.

The veteran right-hander allowed a total of three earned runs in 20 innings over his first three starts of the season.

The seven-run first was the biggest inning against Gausman in his career. It was the biggest first inning for Houston since August 2020.

“He kind of got ambushed there,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “They had a very obvious approach with his fastball and split. They weren’t budging on anything down, and he got ambushed early.

“Their team was really hunting a specific location, and he made a couple mistakes, too, in the middle of the zone, but yeah, that was an uncharacteristic first for him.”

Matt Chapman homered for Toronto in the second, and Santiago Espinal went deep in the eighth.

Julks also hit a solo drive in the third for his second career homer. Julks, who grew up in nearby Friendswood and played collegiately for the hometown Cougars, made his big league debut on March 31.

“Every day, the more at-bats you get, you just build off of that,” Julks said. “Everybody around here has definitely helped me a lot to get comfortable. I just try to show up to the field every day, ready to go.”

Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio sat near Houston’s dugout to watch his son, Cavan, play second base for Toronto. Cavan Biggio went 0-for-4 with four fly-outs.

Houston second baseman Mauricio Dubon extended his career-long hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the first. Dubon entered Monday hitting .340 as the primary replacement for Jose Altuve, who broke his right thumb during the World Baseball Classic.

Through 17 games, the Astros are 8-9, just like they were at the same point last season when they went on to win the World Series.

“We get killed one night, and then we have a big night the next night,” Baker said. “We’re just trying to find some form of consistency. Right now, we’re just treading water. That’s what you’ve got to do sometimes is tread water until you start swimming.”

The Blue Jays have been outscored 17-3 in their last two games.

Warm welcome for Springer

Toronto outfielder George Springer received loud cheers during the pre-game announcement of the lineups. Springer played his first seven seasons in Houston and won the 2017 World Series with the Astros before signing with Toronto after the 2020 season.

Roster move

Toronto recalled outfielder Nathan Lukes and optioned outfielder Jordan Luplow to triple-A Buffalo. Lukes made his big league debut on March 30 and appeared in three games.

Trainer’s room

Houston: OF Chas McCormick (vision issues) was “feeling a little better,” Baker said. Baker added that McCormick might be available as a pinch-runner.

Up next

Tuesday’s second game of the three-game series pits Houston RHP Jose Urquidy (1-0, 2.35 ERA) against Toronto RHP Chris Bassitt (1-2, 7.63 ERA).

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