The Blue Jays continued celebrations surrounding their 40th season with a pre-game ceremony honoring the franchise's great pitchers.
The Blue Jays had the power game going, smashing three home runs and riding an eight strikeout performance from Marcus Stroman and some stellar glovework to a comfortable 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
Conversely, with Jose Bautista (who is now on the disabled for the second time this season after another mishap in the outfield) and 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (who leads the Majors in Runs Batted In) still unsigned beyond 2016, the Blue Jays' best window of opportunity to win it all closes following the current season.
Sanchez (12-2) survived a shaky first inning to win for the first time since July 25 against San Diego.
The Astros are 6-0 in Fiers' last six starts in game three of a series, and 5-0 in Fiers' last five Sunday starts. Stroman, whom Martin credited with having "good action on his fastball ... when he's sharp and everything is on he's a really tough at bat", was the first person to greet the catcher at the foot of the dugout when the inning ended. "We kind of had to mix it up a little bit, throw some more breaking balls and some off-speed. He did that. Once he shows he has the ability to do that, it kind of takes away some of the aggressiveness". Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wasn't lying when he said navigating through the Astros lineup was easier when you keep the guys in front of Altuve and Carlos Correa off base. "He turned it into a great outing".
The Blue Jays won their second straight series, beating the Astros 9-2 in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon..
"They slapped three balls to right field in a hurry, " Sanchez said. "I just knew something had to change there".
Toronto is the fifth team in the majors with at least three players with 20 homers (Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, Saunders).
The Jays cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning. After struggling mightily in his first 8 games in the big leagues, Bregman's single in the top of the 1st extended his on-base streak to 9 games. Kemp grounded out and George Springer struck out to end the threat.
"First-pitch changeup", Fiers said. After retiring 8 in a row, McHugh gave up back-to-back 1-out singles to Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders.
Martin's home run came on a 3-and-2 slider from James Hoyt.
"We've got a pretty young group now", Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He made one bad pitch today and it cost us three runs".
According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetDSI, the Blue Jays are -153 money line favorites versus the Astros, who have odds of +138 to pull off the upset.
The Astros started the inning with a pair of hits, including a double off the wall by Bregman.
At Kansas City last Saturday, he permitted the Royals nine hits, one walk and four runs in six innings while striking out three.
"It's amusing how one trade (Troy Tulowitzki), with a good team and going after it (David Price, etc.) with one trade deadline seemed to really turn them all around", Halladay said. The 21-year-old tied a Major League Baseball record for most saves (46) before his 22nd birthday.
"I don't think we did (make any significant deals)", Halladay said. Osuna has converted 13 consecutive opportunities. McHugh matched a season-worst by giving up 10 hits in an August 8 start at Minnesota. Neither Reed nor the police officer was injured, and both laughed off the incident.
Blue Jays: OF Ezequiel Carrera (left Achilles) went 0 for 4 and struck out three times in a rehab game at Triple-A Buffalo.
Toronto (67-51) is a season-best 16 games above.500.
Astros first baseman Marwin Gonzalez was hit on the left knee by a pitch from Stroman in the second.
The big right-hander, a two-time Cy Young Award victor, was either the best, or second-best pitcher in team history, depending on how one feels about Dave Stieb, but never made the playoffs during his dozen seasons in Toronto, despite going 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA.