The Washington Nationals have had no luck against Toronto’s starting pitchers. To make matters worse, they have yet to face the Blue Jays’ ace.
Roy Halladay has been outstanding at Rogers Centre and he looks to lead Toronto to its first home sweep of the season when its three-game series against the Nationals concludes Thursday.
With prized free-agent acquisition A.J. Burnett finally healthy, the Blue Jays’ rotation—which was expected to compete with those in Boston and New York — is finally starting to take shape.
Burnett pitched a six-hitter in Toronto’s 6-0 win Tuesday, and Ted Lilly threw six shutout innings in its 6-1 victory Wednesday.
Washington (33-46) managed just 11 hits against Blue Jays starters. Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI double in the eighth ended a streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings by Toronto.
“We’ve got to start playing to our capabilities,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “We’re going up there and not having good at-bats. You can see the frustration at the plate.”
Halladay (9-2, 3.07 ERA) has won five straight decisions at Rogers Centre, and is 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA in eight home starts this season.
The 2003 AL Cy Young award winner allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings in a 7-4 win over the New York Mets on Saturday.
“I felt good,” said Halladay, who is 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA this month. “I cost myself a few times, but it was one of those games where they just seemed to find holes—bouncing balls up the middle and all sorts of stuff.”
The right-hander is 13-7 with a 3.14 ERA in 25 career interleague games, and is 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals franchise.
Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI Wednesday. He is batting .415 (17-for-41) with six doubles and seven RBIs in his last 11 games against the NL.
Wednesday’s win also moved Toronto a season-high nine games over .500. It has not swept an opponent at Rogers Centre since taking three straight from the Los Angeles Angels July 26-28.
The Blue Jays recorded their first sweep of the season at Atlanta from June 20-22 after failing to sweep an opponent in their first nine opportunities— including six series at home.
The Nationals have lost 13 of their last 17, and are averaging just 1.9 runs in its last seven losses.
“Everybody is going to have to leave here tonight, go back to the hotel, take a look in the mirror and say ‘What can I do, starting tomorrow in that ballgame, what can I bring to the ballpark to help this ball club turn this thing around? What am I capable of doing to help this ball club?”’ Robinson said.
John Patterson (1-1, 3.41) will make his second start Thursday after being on the disabled list for two months with right forearm tendinitis. He pitched well in his first start, but lost to Baltimore 2-1 on Friday, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings.
“Arm feels good. No problems,” Patterson said. “When I came here today, I wanted to have a quality start. I knew I was only going six innings and throwing 90 pitches. I wanted to give the team a chance to win.”
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in five career interleague starts, and has never faced Toronto.
Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-4 Wednesday and remains one hit shy of 1,000 for his career. He is batting just .118 (4-for-34) in his last eight games.