Sunday, May 5, 2024

Game #35 - Toronto Blue Jays (16-19) @ Washington Nationals (17-17) - game recap


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a grand slam in a losing effort as the Nationals came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 11-8

After hanging on for a win with a shaky Jordan Romano doing enough to get the last three outs, the Blue Jays were looking to extend the win streak to 2 games, notch their 5th series win of the season and 3rd season series win. The big story today was expected to be the return to the bigs for Alek Manoah, who has much to prove after a disastrous 2023 season that resulted in two separate demotions. One of the ugliest moments came July 29th when he ended the season of Taylor Wall with a fastball to the face that resulted in facial fractures. There were early injury concerns for Manoah in spring training where he made just one start before being shut down with shoulder soreness. Brenden Little was optioned back to AAA-ball. Alejandro Kirk was behind the plate. Justin Turner was back at DH after playing the hot corner yesterday (Ernie Clement was at the hot corner today). IFK got the start at 2B. Daulton Varsho was in CF and Davis Schneider was in LF. Could the Blue Jays make it 2 straight wins and notch their 5th series win and 3rd season series win? Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Nationals opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st on a bases loaded walk to Joey Meneses that forced in Jacob Young
  • The Blue Jays tied it up in the top of the 2nd on a fielding error by Nationals pitcher MacKenzie Gore that scored Daulton Varsho on a ball hit by Isiah Kiner-Falefa
  • Three batters later, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hammered a grand slam to left; also scoring Kiner-Falefa, Alejandro Kirk and Ernie Clement
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the top of the 3rd as Kiner-Falefa singled scoring Davis Schneider
  • The Nationals got one back in the bottom half of the inning as Luis Garcia Jr. drilled a solo jack to dead center
  • MacKenzie Gore pitching line: 3IP 6H 6R (2 earned) 2BB 4K 76 pitches (50 for strikes)
  • The Nationals got a pair back in the bottom of the 4th as Garcia singled scoring Eddie Rosario and Jacob Young
  • Two batters later, Jesse Wiinker hammered a 3-run bomb to right-center; also scoring Garcia and Nick Senzel
  • The Blue Jays tied the game in the top of the 5th on a sac fly by Kiner-Falefa that scored Schneider
  • A batter later, Varsho scored on a fielding error by Nationals SS CJ Abrams on a ball hit by Ernie Clement
  • Alek Manoah pitching line: 4IP 6H 7R (6 earned) 4BB 6K 92 pitches (52 for strikes)
  • The Nationals tied it up in the top of the 6th as Garcia singled scoring Young
  • The Nationals took the lead in the bottom of the 7th as Rosario hammered a 2-run bomb to right-center; also scoring Winker
  • The Nationals addeda run in the bottom of the 8th on a sac fly by Meneses that scored Abrams
  • Kyle Finnegan pitched a scoreless 9th for his 11th save of the season
  • Final score: Nationals 11 Blue Jays 8

My Take:

  • It was perhaps the most anticipated start of the season with Alek Manoah returning to the majors after a disastrous 2023 season where he was demoted twice and was a shadow of the pitcher who dominated in his first two seasons in the bigs. There has to be concern after he was lit up for 7 runs (6 earned) on 6 hits while walking 4 and striking out 6 in 4 innings. He wasn't exactly facing the strongest lineup today. He was fortunate to escape the 1st inning with just one run allowed. He did retire 6 in a row, including striking out three straight, so perhaps that's something he can build on. The Blue Jays got him off the hook of facing a loss and Manoah is fortunate the offence was clicking today. Manoah still has a long way to go and the majors may not be the place to get back to his 2021/2022 form. He needs to accept an extended demotion and stay in AAA ball until he can string together several good starts, not just one and he's earned his way back to the majors, as was the case this time.
  • The bullpen gave up 4 runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 2. There were no bright spots in the bullpen today. They were unable to hold the lead and gave up costly insurance runs to put the game out of reach. Did I mention the Nats lineup isn't exactly the strongest in the league?
  • The offence had its biggest output in a while, scoring 8 runs, 4 off a Vladdy grand slam. Davis Schneider had a pair of hits, scored twice and drove in 2 other runs. KF was 1-3 and scored once
  • Every Blue Jays starter reached base at least once and all but Justin Turner and Alejandro Kirk had a hit 
  • The Blue Jays were 4-15 with runners in scoring position
  • Up next, after an off-day tomorrow, the Blue Jays open a mini 2-game set against the Phillies, who won the season series against the Blue Jays 3-1, outscoring the Blue Jays 20-11. Ace Jose Berrios starts against Phillies lefty Christopher Sanchez