Series Sum-Up: Nationals vs. Blue Jays

 Devon Travis was 6-for-10 in the Toronto Blue Jays' recent three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Devon Travis was 6-for-10 in the Toronto Blue Jays' recent three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Friday, June 15
JAYS WIN!!! 6-5
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh
Save: Ryan Tepera

The Blue Jays got the homestand off to a good start, snapping a losing streak with a close win in interleague play. Aaron Sanchez allowed a run in each of the first two innings, on four hits and a walk. His team gave him some support with a three-run rally in the third off Gio Gonzalez. Aledmys Diaz led off with a single, and Devon Travis homered. After a walk was erased on a double play, Yangervis Solarte also homered to take a 3-2 lead.

The Nationals got another pair of hits in the fifth, with the Trea Turner scoring the tying run on a wild pitch. Sanchez was finished after six innings, having allowed three runs on six hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Gonzalez stayed in to face the first two batters of the seventh, but after Travis singled and Teoscar Hernandez hit a ground-rule double (which Adam Eaton lost in the lights), Justin Miller was brought in. A Justin Smoak sac fly scored Travis, and then Solarte hit a two-run bomb. Miller hadn’t allowed a run all season up to that point.

In the eighth, the Blue Jays' bullpen allowed two more runs, narrowing their advantage to a one-run lead. Aaron Loup faced Bryce Harper, who singled, then was pulled in favour of John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.), who allowed a double and an RBI single before getting a double play and a strikeout to end the inning. In the ninth, Wilmer Difo led off with a single and stole second, while the throw from Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) bounced into centre field. Difo then took third on a deep fly ball out, putting the tying run 90 feet from home. But Ryan Tepera locked it down with a ground out and a strikeout to pick up the save and preserve the win.

Game 2: Saturday, June 16
JAYS WIN!!! 2-0
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Tyler Clippard

Max Scherzer displayed his traditional dominance, striking out 10 Blue Jays while allowing just four hits over six innings. But Marco Estrada out-dueled the reigning Cy Young winner, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Estrada allowed a walk and a bunt single in the second inning, but then retired the next 12 consecutive Nationals.

Scherzer didn’t allow a baserunner until there were two outs in the third, when Devon Travis singled. Curtis Granderson also singled in that inning, which was his 1,700th career hit. Both runners nearly advanced on a pickoff attempt that sailed over second base and into center field. That was until the home plate umpire indicated that he’d interfered with the catcher’s throw, and ordered the runners to go back. Scherzer issued his only walk of the game to Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth. Travis homered in the fifth, driving in Luke Maile, who had been hit with a pitch, and scoring the only two runs of the game.

 

Game 3: Saturday, June 17
JAYS WIN!!! 8-6
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Tepera

 

Both starters went four innings, but neither took a decision as their teams traded leads multiple times until the eighth inning. Sam Gaviglio started the game with eight consecutive strikes, but then Washington got on the board in the second when Michael A. Taylor singled, took the first of four stolen bases, and was driven in by a Wilmer Difo single. Difo in turn stole second, and advanced to third when Russell Martin’s pickoff attempt was over the second baseman’s head. After Gaviglio issued a walk to the Nationals’ catcher, he balked, and Difo scored too. The Blue Jays cut into that lead in the bottom of the inning as Randal Grichuk hit a solo shot for his sixth home run of the season. The Nats answered with another run on two hits in the third.

The Jays then tied it up with a 38-pitch inning for Tanner Roark. With two out, Yangervis Solarte singled, and Kendrys Morales reached on an infield hit to the second baseman, who'd been playing in the shift. Kevin Pillar hit an RBI double, and Russell Martin worked a full-count walk that loaded the bases. Randal Grichuk did the same, forcing in the tying run. Gaviglio stranded a pair in the fourth to conclude his start, having thrown 77 pitches. Roark hit Teoscar Hernandez and surrendered a pair of singles to give the Jays their first lead of the game.

They expanded that lead in the fifth when Grichuk hit his second homer of the day, this one off Shawn Kelley. With two outs, Devon Travis doubled, and that was the end of the road for Kelley. The Nats brought in Tim Collins, who got the pinch-hitter Justin Smoak to ground out to end the inning. After a perfect fifth, Joe Biagini gave up a run on three hits while only getting one out in the sixth. Seunghwan Oh came in with runners at the corners, and a pinch-hit single by Adam Eaton drove in the tying run. Hernandez managed to turn an outfield assist on that hit, throwing out the runner at third.

Toronto retook the lead in the seventh inning thanks to another Grichuk RBI, this one a single. The lead was short-lived, however, as Washington scored another run on two singles and a wild pitch, this time off John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.). With the score 6-6, the Nationals turned to Ryan Madson, who hadn’t allowed a home run yet in 2018. Naturally, he gave up two, back-to-back, to Hernandez and Solarte. Ryan Tepera, after stranding the bases loaded in the eighth, locked down the save with two strikeouts. The Nationals had five stolen bases; the Blue Jays had two, and nobody from either team was caught stealing. Both teams had double-digit hits, with the visitors recording 13 and the home team 15.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

 

- Yangervis Solarte is the ninth switch-hitting Blue Jay to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. Justin Smoak accomplished the feat on Canada Day in 2015, and Kendrys Morales was the most recent to do so, last July in Oakland.

 

- Saturday’s game marked the first time Blue Jays pitching has completed a shutout since August 10, 2017. The stretch of 117 games between shutouts is the longest in club history.

My favourite(s) this series: Travis/Estrada/Grichuk/Solarte

Marco Estrada had his third great start in a row, going 6 2/3 innings scoreless and only allowing three hits and two walks. Just one of the hits was for extra bases (a double in the sixth) and at one point he retired 12 batters in a row. That start saw his ERA drop by nearly half a run, and it’s currently at 1.45 for the month of June.

Devon Travis had two hits in each game, including two home runs and a double. Two of his hits were off Max Scherzer, including one of the home runs. He also drove in four runs total, and scored three, as well as exhibiting some great defensive range at second base. He’s hitting .351/.400/.541 in June, and has rebounded significantly since he was recalled from triple-A in mid-May.

Randal Grichuk started two games of this series, and while he went 0-for-4 on Friday, his performance on Sunday more than made up for it. With three hits and a walk, he drove in four runs, and had two home runs; marking his first multi-homer game as a Blue Jay.

Yangervis Solarte continues to lead the team in home runs, after tacking on three in three games. He hit two on Friday (one while batting right-handed, the other lefty) as well as one on Sunday. Overall he was 5-for-13 in the series with three homers, a double, four runs scored and four RBI.

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Emily

Emily is a Communications student who grew up with a Roy Halladay poster on the back of her door. A baseball history nerd, she played softball for nine years and changes her favourite Blue Jay on a regular basis. She fondly remembers going to her first Jays game at age six with her father, and spending the whole time staring at the elevators going up the CN Tower.