Outfielder hadn't gone deep in Houston in 2017 despite 4-month tenure with Astros
By Christian Boutwell
HOUSTON -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had no idea Norichika Aoki has that kind of power.
Despite playing 32 games in an Astros uniform at Minute Maid Park, Blue Jays outfielder Norichika Aoki rifled his first home run in Houston's home ballpark this season on Sunday -- a two-run bullet in the seventh inning of the Blue Jays' 7-6 loss.
Almost a week after being traded from Houston to Toronto for Francisco Liriano before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Aoki made his Toronto debut in the eighth inning of Friday's game against the Astros, grounding out to the end the game in his only at-bat. Two days later, Aoki's long ball -- his first hit with Toronto -- seemed to shock even his new manager during his first start as a Blue Jay.
"I didn't know he had that much power," Gibbons said. "Big hit. Huge hit. He had been waiting to get into the game. He hadn't been in one yet. Nice job by Nori."
"I'm happy to hit a home run at this field," Aoki said through a translator.
Aoki's home run started a four-run seventh for the Blue Jays, putting Toronto up, 6-3, until Houston strung together a four-run ninth inning that included a walk-off single by catcher Juan Centeno.
Jose Bautista, stationed on the other side of the outfield from Aoki in left, also cranked a two-run home run in the third inning. But still, no hit on Sunday was as clutch for the Blue Jays as Aoki's.
"I guess, that home run was big," Aoki said.
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.