April 19, 2021

Washington Nationals Game 51/52 Review: Nats Split Doubleheader with Toronto


The Washington Nationals split their Tuesday doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the first game 2-0 behind Jordan Zimmermann’s excellent effort, and dropping the second game 7-3 after the Blue Jays cracked open the Nationals bullpen and ate them like a briny Rappahannock oyster.

Jordan Zimmermann was the star of the show on Tuesday afternoon, walking one, striking out four and scattering six hits in eight innings pitched. His command was top-notch, and he scored one of the two Nationals run in the fifth after a single. The weather worked in Zimmermann’s favor, with cold air deadening the carry in the outfield.

The Nationals’ only runs in the opener came in the fifth inning. Zimmermann hit a line drive single up the middle to lead off the inning. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey walked Yunel Escobar, before giving up a sacrifice to Ian Desmond and a single to Bryce Harper to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Another sacrifice from Ryan Zimmerman brought Escobar home for a 2-0 final.

In the nightcap, the Nationals sent Max Scherzer to the bump, and at first it looked like he might be having a decent night. That is, until he ran into Todd Pillar. Pillar had a solo shot just barely edge its way out of the park to left field in the second inning to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. Down 3-1 in the sixth inning, Pillar came to the plate with two on and two out to face Scherzer again. On a 1-1 slider, Pillar hit it just to the left of the second inning shot to give the Jays a 4-3 lead.

Blake Treinen came on to pitch the seventh for the Nationals and immediately plunged into a briar pitch, giving up singles to Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson, and walking Jose Bautista with no one out. Chris Colabello and Danny Valencia contributed to Treinen’s inevitable demise with a single and a sacrifice fly before Matt Williams came out with the hook.

Once again, the Nationals weren’t sure what to expect from Blake Treinen, but didn’t get what they needed from him tonight. His fastball wasn’t dialed in for strikes, and the strike zone from the umpire was more compact than he was expecting. The Jays had him dialed in for contact, and they were locating their hits better than Treinen was his pitches. As of now, the Nationals’ weakest part is their early bullpen, and the ripest possibility for mid-season acquisition.

The damage was done, and the Nationals trailed 6-3, but they weren’t out of it quite yet. With two outs, and Felipe Rivero back on the mound, fresh from AAA, a staggered double steal allowed the Jays to add on another run, as Martin and Colabello advanced from first and third. The old Billy Martin distraction play worked, as Jose Lobaton’s throw was high at second, and Colabello scoreed.

The Nationals got their runs in the fourth and fifth from the heart of the order. Tyler Moore, playing first in the nightcap to give Ryan Zimmerman a rest, had a pair of RBI on a double and a sacrifice fly, and Lobaton added a clutch hit in the fourth to score Moore. Beyond that, the Nationals bats struggled Tuesday night in the cold damp air. Harper nearly had a homer in the fourth but settled for a double when it hit the top of the bullpen fence in right.

The Nats take the field Wednesday night against Toronto looking to grab their tenth series out of eleven at 7:05pm. Taylor Jordan will start for Washington, Mark Buerhle for Toronto.

HERO: Jordan Zimmermann for his 8IP, 0R, 6K, 1BB day.

GOAT: Blake Treinen, for his rough outing out of the pen.


  • The Nationals announced an attendance of nearly 50,000 between the two games.
  • That’s tickets sold, not actual attendance, which was substantially less in the afternoon game.
  • This was the first time all season the Blue Jays have failed to score any runs.
  • Desmond’s Golden Sombrero (4 Ks) in the second game was his first of the year.

NEXT UP: Mark Buehrle vs. Taylor Jordan, 7:05pm

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

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