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Baseball Blue Jays start series against Astros on the right foot

Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins tags out Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve trying to steal second base in the third inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre in Toronto, on July 6, 2017.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

As the Toronto Blue Jays attempted to win their third game in a row for the first time in more than a month, president and CEO Mark Shapiro was making the rounds on sports talk radio, trying to explain, among other things, how the club would proceed in the next few weeks as the league approaches its non-waiver trade deadline.

Given the team's place at the bottom of the American League East and the likelihood the Jays will not win their division, fans are wondering: Will Toronto be a buyer or a seller when deadline day rolls around?

Maybe both, Shapiro said.

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"I think it's entirely possible that we, at this trade deadline, could be buyers and sellers," he said on The Scott MacArthur Show in the afternoon.

Speaking on Prime Time Sports later in the evening about Toronto's fan base, which has provided the Jays' with one of the highest average attendance rates in baseball, he said, "we want to do everything we humanly can to give our fans something to cheer about."

Those comments appear to signal Shapiro is not yet prepared to go into rebuild mode or rule out a Blue Jays' run toward the playoffs. Any playoff run would likely need to come through succeeding in the AL wild-card race, where they trail the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals by 4 1/2 games after winning their match against the Houston Astros on Thursday.

While he was hesitant to discuss the situations of individual players, preferring to leave those conversations to general manager Ross Atkins, Shapiro did address the future of Josh Donaldson, the former AL MVP and Toronto's best player who is under club control for another year after this season.

"It's hard for me to see a scenario where you trade one of the best players in baseball and get better," he said.

While the head honcho commented on his future, Donaldson got it done at the plate at Rogers Centre in series opener against the Astros, swatting a two-run single to spur a five-run fifth inning for the Blue Jays, who extended their winning streak with a 7-4 victory.

Donaldson, whose run-scoring single snapped a 0-for-15 skid, added another single and walked and continued his career dominance against the Astros, which includes 10 homers and 36 runs batted in over 52 games.

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Russell Martin had a three-hit night and a solo homer, and every member of the Jays' starting nine registered a hit as Toronto kicked off its last series before the all-star break with a win.

It was a rare off night for Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr., who took the loss. The all-star right-hander lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up six runs (five earned) to lower his record on the season to 7-2. It was the first time since late April, a span of 10 starts, that he'd allowed more than three earned runs.

The Blue Jays were on the cusp of jumping out to an early lead with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, but it was the Astros who struck first. After escaping an ugly opening frame that included two walks, a single and a mis-pitch that bounced its way to the plate from McCullers, Houston got on the board with a leadoff solo home run from Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the second inning.

Toronto, whose play at home has been dismal of late, briefly evened the score in the fourth, but fell behind again in the fifth after Alex Bregman led off the inning with a double before scoring. The Jays broke out in the fifth, and, despite a shaky seventh and eighth that yielded a pair of Houston runs, held on for the win.

Francisco Liriano got the win. He pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts to improve his record to 5-4.

Roberto Osuna closed the game out in the ninth inning, pitching for the third night in a row.

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On Friday, Aaron Sanchez makes his highly anticipated return to the mound for the second contest of the four-game set. Sanchez, who has been sidelined with a recurring blister on his right middle finger, has made only five starts this season.

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