Jiji-Japan News HOUSTON — Norichika Aoki made his presence felt with his new team — by homering against his old team.
Aoki got his first hit for the Toronto Blue Jays since being traded last week from Houston, a two-run homer in the seventh inning on Sunday against the Astros.
That gave the Blue Jays the lead, which they expanded to three runs, but the Astros rallied for four in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 7-6.
Aoki, starting in left field and batting eighth, came up with the Blue Jays trailing by one in the seventh. After striking out in his first two at-bats on outside two-seam fastballs from starter Mike Fiers, he got hold of one to homer into the bullpen beyond the right-center field fence at Minute Maid Park.
“I didn’t think it would clear the fence,” Aoki said.
It was fate that sent Aoki back to Houston for his first series after his recent trade to Toronto. During the series and again as he rounded the bases, he avoided eye contact with his former teammates, saying, “I would get emotional.”
Back in the dugout, his new teammates playfully chided him for his unexpected display of power.
“I feel like they’ve accepted me as a team member,” Aoki said.
In other action, Miami reliever Junichi Tazawa tossed a perfect eighth inning with one strikeout in the Marlins’ 4-1 victory over the host Atlanta Braves.