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May 4, 2024 7:36 am

Nationals aim to follow up ‘electric’ win in rematch vs. Jays

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals started hitting late on Friday and will look to carry that momentum into Saturday afternoon’s game against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

The Nationals came back in the opener of the three-game series Friday night with a four-run seventh inning, highlighted by a pinch-hit, three-run homer by Luis Garcia Jr.

Washington added four runs in the eighth en route to a 9-3 victory for its sixth win in the last eight games.

The Blue Jays continued to struggle offensively, scoring all of their runs in the second inning, two on Daulton Varsho’s double.

The Nationals are scheduled to start right-hander Jake Irvin (2-2, 4.28 ERA) on Saturday to try to clinch the series. He has yet to face Toronto in his career.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to start right-hander Kevin Gausman (1-3, 4.50) on Saturday. He is 7-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 career outings (11 starts) against the Nationals.

Garcia hit Erik Swanson’s first pitch for his second homer of the season.

“It’s hard to explain with words the emotions that run through you,” Garcia said. “I just came in from hitting in the cage, and I was actually not trying to be too aggressive. I was just trying to focus on that at-bat to get a pitch that was elevated. Fortunately, he threw a splitter that hung a little bit and it was up, and I was able to make good contact with it.”

Garcia’s big swing was felt by his teammates.

“That was electric,” Nationals shortstop CJ Abrams said. “Luis, big situation. He had the (guts) to get it done, and he did it.”

“You look at everything before the game and try to see where a good spot is for all these guys,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “That was a good spot. … I thought if we were ever going to score some runs, it’d be right now, plus we had the top of the order coming up. It worked out.”

Toronto wasted a good start by left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed one run in six innings.

The bullpen let the game get away, along with two fielding errors contributing to the problems in the eighth.

Toronto manager John Schneider, who has been preaching patience, changed his tone for this series. He feels something has to start happening now.

“If there’s a time to make adjustments, that’s on me,” Schneider said. “Not waiting around for it to happen is very, very important. I think we fell into that last year a little bit with the guys that are still on this team and some guys who aren’t here this year, saying, ‘It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.’ Well, it needs to happen. As a staff, there’s things we’re doing differently. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we’re just saying it’s going to happen.”

After surrendering three runs in the second, Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin lasted six innings.

“You can’t let guys off the hook,” Schneider said. “Whether it’s Corbin or Babe Ruth, it doesn’t matter. Cy Young, it doesn’t matter. You have to keep grinding. That’s what we’ll address going forward.

“Guys know that we’re grinding right now. We’re pressing a little bit. Whether it’s the lineup or just performance, they’ve got to get it done. It’s not that early. The runway gets shorter and shorter.”

The Blue Jays on Friday recalled outfielder Nathan Lukes from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned utility player Addison Barger to Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

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