Hernandez, Solarte back-to-back homers lift Blue Jays to sweep of Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Randal Grichuk (15) celebrates his solo home run against the Washington Nationals with Devon Travis during second inning interleague baseball action in Toronto on Sunday, June 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, June 17, 2018 7:35PM EDT
TORONTO - If Teoscar Hernandez was hurting after being hit by a pitch, he wasn't going to let it show on the field.
Hernandez took a ball off his unprotected right elbow in the fourth inning, reeling back from the plate in pain and taking his base after being examined by team trainers. He gunned down a runner at third base in the sixth and hit the game-winning home run in the eighth as the Toronto Blue Jays competed a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals on Sunday with an 8-6 victory.
“It hurts a little bit, but nothing to worry about,” said Hernandez with a large ice pack wrapped around his elbow. “Just a hit. It will be fine.
“It was getting a little bit worse but we made it and we're going to be good.”
Yangervis Solarte hit a homer in the next at bat off reliable Nationals reliever Ryan Madson for the game's final score. The 35,146 fans at Rogers Centre began chanting “Let's go Blue Jays!” despite the sweltering heat in the stadium.
“Everybody knows that Madson is one of the best relievers in the league,” said Hernandez. “We made some adjustments, made good swings, and hit it hard.”
Randal Grichuk went 3 for 3 on the day with two home runs and four runs batted in, including one on a bases-loaded walk, for Toronto (33-38), but he was overshawoded by his teammates' late-game heroics.
“I've been a little more loose with my grip,” said Grichuk. “I've been able to be not as tense with my upper body, my forearms and shoulders, with that I think it's allowed me to get to that fastball and not be too tight.”
Starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio struck out six and allowed three runs - two earned - over four innings. He left the ballpark immediately so he could fly to Washington state to be with his wife, who was giving birth to their first child.
Joe Biagini had two runs charged to him in 1 1/3 innings, while Seunghwan Oh and John Axford combined for 1 2/3 of scoreless relief. Tyler Clippard gave up a run in his 2/3 of an inning, followed by Ryan Tepera's scorless four outs. Tepera (4-2) earned the win.
Oh and Clippard both earned blown saves as Blue Jays manager John Gibbons tries to juggle a bullpen missing closer Roberto Osuna, who is still on administrative leave after he was charged with assault stemming from a domestic disturbance on May 8. His first court date is on Monday.
Brian Goodwin led Washington's (37-31) offence with two hits and two RBIs. Michael Taylor went 3 for 4 with two runs and four stolen bases.
Tanner Roark gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings of work.
“I stunk today,” said Roark. The Nationals' bullpen didn't fare much better.
Shawn Kelley gave up Grichuk's second home run in his two-thirds of an inning. Tim Collins threw a scoreless inning, but Justin Miller gave up a run and Madson (1-3) took the loss after giving up the homers to Hernandez and Solarte.
Wilmer Difo's single in the second scored Taylor. Difo then stole second, advanced to third on a Russell Martin error and scored when Gaviglio balked to give Washington a 2-0 lead.
Grichuk's first homer got one back for Toronto in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rendon scored on Daniel Murphy's single in the third to take a 3-1 lead.
Kevin Pillar hit a double in the bottom of the third, plating Solarte and advancing Kendrys Morales to third base. Martin drew a walk in the next at bat to load the bases, before Grichuk worked the count and earned a walk to send Solarte home and tie it 3-3.
In the fourth, Morales had a base hit to short, allowing Granderson to score and give the Blue Jays their first lead of the game.
Grichuk hit his second homer of the game in the fifth, marking the third multi-homer game of his career.
Goodwin doubled off the outfield wall in the sixth to drive in Taylor. Two at-bats later, pinch-hitter Adam Eaton stroked a double down the line to drive Goodwin home and tie the game 5-5. Difo was gunned down at third by Hernandez on the play for the second out of the inning.
Grichuk struck again in the seventh, singling in Pillar and restoring Toronto's lead before Goodwin tied it back up in the top of the eighth with an RBI single.