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Pearson was great, but Jays lose

MLB: Washington Nationals at Toronto Blue Jays Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals 4 Blue Jays 1

That tenth inning was awful.

Shun Yamaguchi starting the inning with a runner on second, decided let’s give them a couple more runners, so he walked the next two. But then he got two strikeouts.

Then a ground ball that Shun kicked at. Kicking at a ball is not a good idea. If he hadn’t kicked it, I think it would have gone straight to Cavan Biggio and he would have been out of the inning. Instead it bounced up to Biggio, getting to him later. Cavan dived to the second base bag, and was just late. Called safe. Review and, we didn’t see a view that showed the play well enough to overturn it.

I thought the play was to first base, the runner on first has a leadoff, he’s going to be quicker to second than even a fast runner, like Adam Eaton. In the time it took him to decide to dive to the bag, he could have thrown to first.

But, maybe a better play still would have been to dive at the runner instead of diving to the bag. The runner was closer to Cavan than the bag and, I think, he could have tagged him before he touched second. I know Cavan had to make a quick decision, so making the wrong one is understandable. It should have been an out and we should have been out of the top of the tenth without allowing a run.

Cavan too could have stayed with the play and tagged the runner when he came off the bag, but he was busy showing the umpire that he had the ball. Staying with the play and getting the tag when the runner came off the bag is a play we should be making. A run would still have scored, but the 3 after that wouldn’t have scored.

After that, Shun totally lost the strike zone. He went 3-0 to Asdrubal Cabrera. Then he got a gift strike ball (only about 6 inches off the plate) and then threw a balling practice fastball that was grounded hard at Vladimir Guerrero Jr. I’m not sure Vlad had a chance on it, it was hit so hard. It turned into a triple and we were down 4-0.

Shun got very unlucky, but then he wasn’t good. A play made and he gets out of it. But you walk 2 batters, it puts pressure on the defense and things tend to go bad.

The important part was: Nate Pearson was as good as we hoped he would be. He struck out the first batter he saw, Trea Turner and would go on to throw 5 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks with 5 strikeouts. He didn’t hit 100 on the radar gun (that I saw) but there was a beautiful 99 at the knees for a strikeout in the fourth. It was a big strikeout too, with a runner on third (Eric Thames doubled to lead off the inning, and went to third on a one-out double. It was the biggest jam Nate was in).

If Nate can continue like that, it is going to be a good season.

Rafael Dolis pitched a quick sixth, ground out, fly out, strikeout. The trifecta.

Sam Gaviglio got very lucky in the seventh. After a one-out walk and single, Andrew Stevenson lined one to left, over Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but Lourdes made a terrific diving catch. It was a huge catch. That was enough for Charlie, he pulled Sam from the game.

Jordan Romano got the third out and pitched a quick eighth. A couple of weeks later in to the season, I’d have wanted him to go another inning.

Anthony Bass pitched a nice neat ninth, just 13 pitches. Again, later in the season, I’d expect him to stay in the game, but smarter to be careful early.

Max Scherzer was terrific. We only managed 3 hits and 3 walks off him in 7.1 innings. He struck out 10 Jays.

We only had him in trouble once. In the eighth inning, Joe Panik singled. Anthony Alford pinch ran and stole second. Santiago Espinal tried to bunt him to third, but fouled off the attempt with one strike and then tried to bunt again, again foul, for the strikeout. I’m really not a fan of bunting with 2 strikes.

Derek Fisher had a very good at bat and worked a 6-pitch walk, after falling behind 0-2. That was when they took Scherzer out of the game.

During Fishers’ at bat, Scherzer tried to pick Alford off second base. He turned and threw it at the second base umpire. To me, the dark tops the umpires wore were much like the dark jerseys the Nationals were wearing. I’m almost sure Max spun and saw the dark shirt and threw. Or maybe he just made a bad throw. Either way Alford was at third with one out.

Runners on the corners and Teoscar Hernandez up. Infield in. Teoscar, on a 2-2 pitch (he took two fastballs in the middle of the zone), ground one hard up the middle. I thought we won. But shortstop Trea Turner made a nice stop of the ball and, instead of going home, he made a very nice play to start a double play.

Now Fisher could have stolen second, but you don’t expect a ground ball double play with the infield in. If he had gone to second....well, as Wilmer used to say, we’d have to see into the alternate universe to see how it would have gone. The same ground ball up the middle would have made for an interesting play, Turner would have come home, Alford is fast....who knows. But then it likely wouldn’t have been the same pitch, same grounder.

In the tenth, down by four. Tanner Rainy struck out Rowdy Tellez. Rowdy wasn’t happy with the third strike call and was thrown out of the game (It looked like a strike on TV). Then someone from the Jays bench was also tossed.

Danny Jansen followed with a strikeout. And then Brandon Drury struck out on a wild pitch and reached first, but Santiago Espinal popped out to center.

It was one we thought we should win.

Jays of the Day: Pearson (.291 WPA), Romano (.189) and Bass (.147). Alford had the number too, (.150) basically just for the steal and moving to third on the error. We should have scored him.

Suckage: Yamaguchi (Fangraphs doesn’t do the WPA properly with the runner starting on second but he earned the award), Teocar (-.289, 0 for 3, walk, 2 k), Espinal (-.158, 0 for 4, 3 strikeouts), Biggio (-.149, 0 for 3, 1 k, plus the misplay in the tenth) and Vlad (-.131 0 for 4, 2 k)

Gurriel also had the number (-125) but I figure that catch saves him from a Suckage Award.

Tomorrow’s game is earlier, a 4:00 Eastern start. Hyun-Jin Ryu verus Erick Fedde.

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