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Nationals Take Series From The Blue Jays

After every Blue Jays series, this Canadian will sum up his five stars of the set and throw in my two cents (worth .015 US).

I understand that the Washington Nationals moved from Montreal to Washington D.C in 2005. However, whenever I think about the Nationals, I am reminded of the Montreal Expos, which were Canada’s first Major League Baseball team, and how they eventually ceased to exist.

Recently, I recalled a memory of the Pearson Cup, which I am willing to bet that even most Canadian baseball fans are unaware of.

From 1978 to 1986, the Jays and Expos played a one-game exhibition during each season, competing for the Pearson Cup, named after former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, one of Canada’s most successful PMs and an avid sports enthusiast.  As a small child, the idea seemed great, but it fizzled out due to a lack of interest and an abundance of logic.

I am going to do a deep dive into this in another piece, but part of me will always look at Washington as “Montreal South.” 

Now on to the series, which AGAIN saw the Jays take the losing end.

Washington entered the series 16-17, which, based on pre-season expectations, is decent.  Led to date C.J. Abrams (7 HR .917 OPS), the Nationals won the first game when the Blue Jays bullpen wasted Yusei Kikuchi’s six-inning/one-run performance.  Kikichi left the game with a 3-1 lead, but Erik Swanson, who has been abysmal all year allowed the first two batters in the bottom of the 7th to reach base, before pinch hitter Luis Garcia tagged him with a three-run shot.  Washington scored five more runs, four of which were unearned due to fielding errors by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Davis Schneider.  It was an ugly 9-3 loss.

The second contest went much better for our forces of good, with Kevin Gausman obtaining his second win in the Jays 6-3 victory.  Throwing 5.1 Innings of shutout ball, and Kevin Kiermaier returned from IR with a two-run tater.  The struggles of the slumping Bo Bichette continued as he was dropped to fifth in the order and threw his batting helmet to the ground following a called third strike, which led to his ejection.  Bichette left this series with a .192 Batting Average and a -0.5 bWAR.

Before Gausman took the mound, it was announced that Alek Manoah was called up from AAA Buffalo to pitch in the series finale.  You don’t have to be a Jays fan to be aware of Manoah’s 2023 implosion that occurred, and you have to ask what he did to anger the baseball gods.  Manoah has not been sharp in his combined A Dunedin/AAA Buffalo with an 8.69 ERA and WHIP near 2.  These are not the numbers of a pitcher ready to return, but Manoah, 26, who was third in Cy Young voting two years ago is clearly broken,

Send him back, he isn’t fixed.

In football, opposing coaches call a timeout to ice the kicker before they attempt a pivotal field goal attempt.  I wondered if the baseball gods did that to Manoah, as the skies opened up to cause an hour-long weather delay.  Unless my sarcasm is correct, that didn’t happen, but the unfortunate (and arguably expected) Manoah return was just a postponement.

Toronto jumped to a 5-1 lead off of a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grand slam in the second.  After Isiah Kiner-Falefa added another run with an RBI single in the top frame of the third, Luis Garcia got it back with a solo shot in the bottom half.  The Nationals tagged Manoah with another three runs in the fourth, taking over the lead (7-6), chasing Manoah after four innings and a fresh 13.50 ERA.  Toronto recaptured the lead, but the bullpen lost it again when all four Blue Jays relievers (Nate Pearson, Genesis Cabrera, Erik Swanson and Zack Pop) were all credited with an earned run allowed, leading to an 11-8 loss.


Here are my five Blue Jays stars of the series (which, AGAIN, was not easy).

Kevin Gausman, 1 W, 5.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 8 SO, 0.938 WHIP:  Gausman has had his second solid start in a row picking up the win after a season-high 8-strikeout performance.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2 R, 4 H, 2 XBH, 1 HR, 4 RBI .308/.357/.615/.976:  Vladdy hit a grand slam that he was wasted by Jays pitching in the third game, and was his second straight series with an OPS over .900.  It is also nice to see him with an OS+ over 100 (107).

Yusei Kikuchi, 1 ND, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 7 SO, 1.167 WHIP:  Kikuchi’s six innings, lead and 61 Game Score went for naught as the Jays pen blew it immediately after he left the game, but it was the best start of the series for Toronto.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 1 R, 3 H, 0 XBH, 0 HR, 3 RBI .333/.300/.333/.633:  Kiner-Falefa had three singles in the series with 3 RBIs giving a solid performance.

Davis Schneider, 3 R, 3 H, 2 XBH, 0 HR, 0 RBI .500/.667/0.833/1.500:  Schneider got on base for two-thirds of his appearances, which included two doubles.

Honourable mentions for nobody. 

Next, Toronto travels to the powerful Philadelphia Phillies for two games beginning Tuesday. 

Until then, touch them all!

Kirk Buchner
Kirk Buchner
Owner/Operator at the Notinhalloffame.com network @notinhalloffame


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