Jun 2, 2015, 10:09 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After watching Jordan Zimmermann cruise through eight scoreless innings earlier in the day, Max Scherzer had visions of duplicating the feat and pitching the Nationals to a doubleheader sweep. Kevin Pillar and the Blue Jays had other ideas.
Pillar homered twice of Scherzer, including a 3-run shot in the top of the sixth that turned a 3-1 lead for the Nationals into a 4-3 deficit and put a real damper on Scherzer’s night. Things turned even more sour after that, with Blake Treinen giving up three runs in the seventh to dig a bigger hole for his teammates.
Fielding a lineup minus Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos, the Nationals never could get much going at the plate against Toronto’s Marco Estrada (a one-time National). And so a long day of baseball that began with a fine all-around performance in a 2-0 victory ended with a frustrating loss, this team’s fourth in its last five games.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: With Zimmerman out of the lineup for the first time all season, the Nationals needed a fill-in cleanup hitter to hit behind Bryce Harper. Tyler Moore may have seemed an unlikely choice, but he came through twice in this game. After Harper doubled off the top of the right-field wall in the fourth, Moore promptly drove him in with a double down the left-field line. One inning later, Moore lofted a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home another run. He later was robbed of a potential hit up the middle by a diving Ryan Goins.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: We’ve become so accustomed to dominance out of Scherzer that a merely pedestrian outing by the right-hander is a shock to the system. He wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. But he wasn’t what we’ve seen so many times this season. Scherzer needed 25 pitches to get through a scoreless first inning, and that put him behind the 8-ball for much of the night. By the time he reached the sixth, he appeared to be laboring more than usual, with a pitch count approaching triple digits. He issued a 2-out walk to Munenori Kawasaki to prolong the inning and bring Pillar to the plate. The light-hitting outfielder had already taken Scherzer deep in the second inning, and he did it again, this time launching a 1-1 pitch to left to give the Blue Jays the lead. Scherzer wound up allowing more than two earned runs for only the second time in 11 starts this season, and he failed to complete seven inning for only the second time as well.
KEY STAT: Jose Lobaton has eight RBI in only 12 games this season.
UP NEXT: The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when Taylor Jordan is expected to make his first start of the season (replacing the injured Stephen Strasburg). Veteran lefty Mark Buehrle takes the mound for Toronto.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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