Blue Jays-Nationals Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays had gone 12 innings without scoring before Kevin Pillar ended that drought, and Pillar came through again two at-bats later to rescue his club from a multi-run deficit.
Facing Taylor Jordan might enable the Blue Jays to start stringing together some wins.
Following a doubleheader against two of the NL's best pitchers, the Blue Jays' offense should have an easier task Wednesday night against the less-imposing Jordan and the Washington Nationals.
Toronto (24-30) couldn't do much against Jordan Zimmermann in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, tallying only six singles in a 2-0 defeat.
The Blue Jays solved their offensive woes by inserting Pillar into the lineup. The center fielder came through against Max Scherzer with a solo homer in the second inning and a three-run shot in the sixth to break open the floodgates in a 7-3 victory Tuesday night.
Scherzer had previously allowed only three homers in 71 2-3 innings.
''We need some wins,'' manager John Gibbons said. ''Doubleheaders are tough simply because you're hanging around all day. This is where you've got to be mentally tough and our guys were.''
It was a much-needed performance for Pillar following a dismal first few months. He posted a .781 OPS in his final 27 games of last season, but had a .585 mark entering Tuesday.
Jordan (0-1, 5.79 ERA), making his first start since April 27, 2014, doesn't quite pose the same threat as Zimmermann and Scherzer. Jordan made his season debut Friday with three runs allowed in 4 2-3 innings of relief after Stephen Strasburg exited with a neck injury that put him on the 15-day DL.
Jordan had a 5.61 ERA in five starts with the Nationals last season.
Washington (29-23) has lost four of five and is in danger of dropping consecutive series for the first time since late April.
Toronto, looking to earn its first road series win since April 10-12, will go with Mark Buehrle (6-4, 4.97). The left-hander allowed four runs in the first inning Friday before settling in to allow just one hit over the final eight in a 6-4 win at Minnesota, his first complete-game victory since July 25, 2013.
Buehrle hasn't faced the Nationals since he did so three times in 2012 while with Miami. Bryce Harper hit a home run off Buehrle in the most recent of those outings on Sept. 8, 2012, Harper's only hit in eight career at-bats in their matchups.
Josh Donaldson failed to hit a home run in either of Tuesday's contests, marking his first back-to-back homerless stretch since a five-game drought May 20-24. He did, however, manage three hits over the twinbill to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
Denard Span has 33 at-bats against Buehrle - most among Washington's active roster - but may not play after missing both games Tuesday with a right knee injury.
"He's just sore," manager Matt Williams said. "I'm not going to push him in that regard. We'll see how he is (Wednesday). A couple days off should be good for him."