The Blue Jays rode a strong Marco Estrada start to a victory tonight in a contest that started to look like it was going the way that so many previous games have gone this season. Max Scherzer matched Estrada step for step until the sixth inning when a huge Kevin Pillar home run brought Blue Jays fans back from the ledge and gave the team a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
After leaving two men on base to start the game in the first inning, the Blue Jays got their first run of the day across the plate in the second inning when Kevin Pillar took a Max Scherzer fastball to left field for a solo shot. With the score sitting at 1-0, Marco Estrada made quick work of the Washington lineup in the first few innings flashing a nasty changeup to hitters on both sides of the plate producing some ugly swings. Only one Nats player was able to hit Estrada the first time through the lineup. Would you like to guess who that was? Bryce Harper of course. The second time through the lineup Harper was also responsible for the first run of the game for the NL East squad. After the early MVP favourite hit a double high off the wall with nothing more than a flick of the wrist, he was brought home on a Tyler Moore double down the left field line. The floodgates started opening a wee bit as Moore was then brought home by a Jose Lobaton single to right field. Luckily Estrada was able to strike out Michael Taylor on a changeup to limit the damage to two runs.
As Scherzer begun to tear up the Jays lineup with his fastball and slider it was starting to look like a 2-1 lead was all he'd need. BUT NO let's give them some more runs for good measure. After Scherzer hit a light single up the middle, Estrada walked Yunel Escobar to get himself into a nice little jam. After striking out Ian Desmond on a fastball, Estrada got Harper to roll one slowly to first base but the Jays pitcher lazily dropped the toss from Chris Colabello allowing the superstar to load the bases. The Jays starter paid for his mistake after Tyler Moore hit an elevated fastball to Jose Bautista that scored Scherzer on a sac fly. Bautista had enough of a problem side arming it to the relay man never mind trying to make it a close play at the plate, clearly still being bothered by his shoulder injury.
There was a glimmer of hope in the sixth inning thanks to Bryce Harper as he butchered his second fly ball of the game, allowing Danny Valencia to get into second on a catchable ball. Justin Smoak, pinch-hitting for Munenori Kawasaki, fought off a few tough changeups before earning himself a walk. Then KEVIN PILLAR HAPPENED (AGAIN!). The center fielder smacked his second home run of the game to left field, nearly in the same spot, giving the Blue Jays another lead. Marco Estrada pitched around a Michael Taylor double in the bottom half to provide a nice shutdown inning (with Danny Valencia making a great catch) as the rain really began to come down in Washington.
The three-run sixth chased Scherzer from the game and the Jays were able to get to the relatively weak Nationals bullpen with a 4-3 lead. This ended up paying dividends as a Jose Reyes single off reliever Blake Treinen was followed up by a Donaldson base hit to put men on the corners for Jose Bautista. The right fielder walked on four pitches to load the bases with no outs for Russell Martin. A weak grounder by the Canadian catcher ended up retiring Jose Reyes at home on a fielder's choice, but thankfully Chris Colabello saved Blue Jays fans' headaches as he came up next and extended his hit streak to 13 games with a one-run single. After looking completely overmatched early in the count against Treinen's nasty sinker and slider combo, Danny Valencia was able to lift a ball to center field for a sac fly that scored Bautista to make it 6-3. The Blue Jays tacked on another run with Ryan Goins at the plate as Colabello stealing second drew a throw before Martin scurried home for the masterful double steal.
The Martin SB of home is 1st time by a Blue Jay since Brett Lawrie, 4/22/12 at KC (also part of DS) #BlueJays— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) June 3, 2015
Liam Hendriks came on for the seventh and eighth retiring all six batters in order with the help of two strikeouts. The Nats sent Casey Janssen to the mound for the ninth as he continues getting into the groove of things after injury troubles earlier this season. Showing severely reduced velocity, the former Blue Jays closer was able to get out of the inning on a double play after allowing a single to Jose Bautista. Brett Cecil came into the game for the bottom of the ninth, striking out the first two hitters, before finishing the game with a pop out.
Jays of the Day including Josh Donaldson (.130 WPA) and Kevin Pillar with a big number of .574 thanks to two hugely important home runs.
There are no Suckage Jays, although somehow Marco Estrada came the closest with a -0.089 WPA figure.
Tomorrow the Blue Jays will go for the series win at 7:05 pm assuming the weather permits the game to be played. Put your pitchforks away for the night folks, the Blue Jays won a game.