The Blue Jays picked up a three-game sweep with a 8-6 win over the Nationals with the help of the longball Sunday afternoon. TSN Baseball Reporter Scott Mitchell provides his key takeaways from the game:
GAME 71, JUNE 17: NATIONALS AT JAYS
RESULT: 8-6 win (Jays win series 3-0)
1—Grichuk’s big day paces offence
The secret to offensive success for the Blue Jays isn’t really a secret at all.
When they hit home runs, they’re really good.
When they don’t, they struggle to find other ways to score.
Well, Jays bats connected for four home runs Sunday to finish off the sweep of the Nationals, and it was Randal Grichuk leading the way with a pair of them.
The 26-year-old right fielder continues his June resurgence, as he finished the day 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBIs.
After the Jays had coughed up a late 6-5 lead in the eighth inning, the long ball then won it for them, with Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte going back-to-back in the bottom of the eighth.
The Jays have now slugged 55 home runs at home, second-most in baseball, and are .500 (19-19) at Rogers Centre for the first time since May 13.
2—Another short outing for Gaviglio
After going just 3.1 innings last time out, Sam Gaviglio once again didn’t last long, but it was probably a good thing in the end.
The 28-year-old had to leave the ballpark early to hop on a flight back to Washington state where his wife is expecting.
On the mound, Gaviglio went just four innings, allowing three runs (only two earned) on six hits.
The margin for error with Gaviglio is slim, and when he’s not locating, he’s going to have some tough days.
With Marcus Stroman set to make what’s expected to be his final rehab start Monday at Double-A New Hampshire, Gaviglio also might find himself in the bullpen sooner rather than later.
His next start is scheduled for Saturday out on the West Coast against the Angels.
3—Jays can’t contain Nats on basepaths
In addition to another oh-fer at the plate, dropping his average to .165, Russell Martin did not have a banner day behind the dish, either.
The Nats stole five bases Sunday — centre fielder Michael Taylor swiped four of them — and Martin was charged with an error for throwing one into centre field.
Coming into the day, Martin had thrown out just 11 of the 48 runners attempting to steal on him this season, which had him sitting 22nd in baseball.
4—Struggles continue for Biagini
It was a surprise last week when Tim Mayza was sent back to Triple-A Buffalo instead of the struggling Joe Biagini, and the 28-year-old right-hander has yet to work his way out of it.
Biagini entered the game in the fifth inning and promptly retired the side, but the sixth inning was not as kind.
After a Taylor single, Brian Goodwin drove him home with a double off Biagini, before a Wilmer Difo single ended his day and left a first-and-third mess for Seunghwan Oh, who got touched up for an Adam Eaton double.
Coming into the season, Biagini was thought to have value as either a starter or a high-leverage reliever, but he’s neither of those right now and is in danger of being demoted if he doesn’t turn it around.
His ERA sits at 8.26.
5—Donaldson still iffy for series with Braves
With an off-day on Monday, the Jays are hoping to buy Josh Donaldson some more time in his efforts to return from left calf tightness, but the timing of everything says he won’t be ready to return Tuesday when Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves show up.
Unless Donaldson can convince them otherwise, manager John Gibbons has noted that his third baseman will probably need a short rehab assignment to make sure his leg is all systems go.
Donaldson, who has just five home runs in 36 games this year, hasn’t played since May 28.
UP NEXT: RHP Mike Soroka (2-1, 2.57) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (2-5, 5.71) on Tuesday, 7:07 p.m.
VLAD JR. WATCH: Out since June 6 with strained patellar tendon in left knee, Vladdy Jr.’s Double-A slash line stands at .407/.457/.667 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI in 53 games. He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated during the first week of July.