TORONTO — The feeling of a threatening first inning quickly faded for the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night thanks to solid offensive play-and-run support for starter Kevin Gausman.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a double in Toronto's second inning with four runs and Danny Jansen hit a solo home run in the third inning as the Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 6-3.
Eight of the nine Toronto starters scored at least one while the Blue Jays kept up with the teams they chase in the American League wildcard race.
“It's great to see everyone's contribution,” said Jansen, who scored three goals. “That's exactly what it will take.”
Gausman gave up an early run as he struggled through a 26-pitch first inning. The Blue Jays threatened in the bottom half, but their Achilles' heel this season – running in runners in goal position – seemed to be a problem again as they left the bases loaded.
But just like in the first frame, Washington starter Josiah Gray (7-11) dished out two free passes in the second inning, and this time the Blue Jays took advantage.
George Springer knocked out a single from Jansen from second base and Guerrero hit a ball off the right midfield wall to add two more runs. Davis Schneider added an RBI single to make it 4-1.
Left-hander Robert Garcia came on as a substitute in the third half and gave Jansen a clear solo shot. It was his 16th home run of the year.
Toronto (72-60) won for the second time in six games, staying 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, who were also victorious.
It was the 30th comeback win of the season for the Blue Jays, who have the best interleague record (27-14) in the major leagues.
CJ Abrams mastered Gausman's first pitch of the night and promptly stole the second. He came across a single by Joey Meneses.
Gausman (10-8) fanned out Dominic Smith to score his 200th strikeout of the season in the fourth inning. The Nationals halved the lead in the fifth set with a two-run double from Meneses.
“I thought (Gausman) had a good heater and was making good use of it,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “And yet 200 strikeouts before September is really damn impressive.
“So on a night when he probably wasn't the best – and we were hoping he would get into the game pretty deep – I thought he only throws big when he really has to.”
Kevin Kiermaier restored Toronto's three-run cushion late in the fifth with an RBI single that Jansen scored.
Trevor Richards threw Toronto two clean innings for relief. Genesis Cabrera was eliminated in the eighth and Jordan Hicks made his twelfth save in the ninth.
Gausman finished the game with seven strikeouts over five innings. He had two walks and allowed seven hits and three earned runs.
“I was lucky to get fifth place,” Gausman said of his 99-pitch push. “They did a really good job training the bats. They released a lot of really good (splinters).”
The reported number of participants was 27,940 and the game lasted two hours and 51 minutes.
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It was the first time the Nationals (61-71) had played at Rogers Center since 2018.
WHO'S ON THE THIRD?
With Matt Chapman (finger) on Monday's 10-day injured list, Schneider started the opening game of the three-game series at third base.
The rookie is one of many backup options in the hot corner alongside Guerrero, Whit Merrifield, Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio.
Also on Monday, Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette had an MRI scan of his sore right quadriceps, but the results were not announced. His absence left the skipper with a redesigned left side of the infield.
“It gets dirty, it gets dirty, it gets tough,” said John Schneider of the positional adjustments. “It's going to be different than what we're used to after basically kicking the same people out for five months.
“You have to see it as a chance for the boys to improve.”
Ernie Clement, a triple-A player who could step in at third base when needed, started as shortstop.
The Nationals put right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. (shoulder) on the 60-day injured list and contracted catcher Drew Millas from Triple-A Rochester.
Millas made his big league debut with a narrow appearance in the ninth inning. The 25-year-old switch-hitter landed on the ground.
Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios (9-9, 3.55 earned run average) is scheduled to take on Nationals left-hander MacKenzie Gore (6-10, 4.38) Tuesday night.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 28, 2023.
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