Scherzer loses 2nd start in row, Blue Jays blank Nats 2-0
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) stands at home plate during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) Max Scherzer had gone more than two months without a defeat. Now the Washington Nationals ace has lost consecutive starts for the first time in nearly three years.
Marco Estrada took a shutout into the seventh inning, Devon Travis homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Scherzer and the Nationals 2-0 on Saturday.
Scherzer (10-3) gave up four hits, including the two-run homer by Travis, in six innings. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner struck out 10, increasing his major league-leading total to 152.
Scherzer has 10 double-digit strikeout games this season, four more than any other pitcher.
Beaten by a two-run home run from San Francisco's Brandon Crawford in his previous outing, Scherzer saw this start turn on another two-run homer, with Travis jumping on a hanging slider in the fifth.
"This is Major League Baseball," Scherzer said. "One pitch can cost you a game. Now I've had it happen twice in back-to-back starts. You can get beat like that. I've got to keep executing every single pitch I throw."
Scherzer last lost two straight starts in a three-game skid in August 2015.
"He pitched really well," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "One mistake."
Travis homered for the second game in a row, going deep to right after Scherzer hit Luke Maile with a pitch.
"He doesn't make many mistakes so when he does, you'd better hope you take advantage of it," Travis said. "If not, it's probably the only one you're going to get for the day."
Estrada (4-6) allowed three hits, one a bunt single, over 6 2/3 innings to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
"He's a big-game pitcher and that's a really tough lineup over there," Travis said of Estrada. "He did a fantastic job today."
The Blue Jays posted their first shutout since Aug. 10, 2017 against the Yankees, snapping a franchise-long 117-game span between shutouts.
Trea Turner hit a two-out double in the sixth, but Estrada struck out Bryce Harper looking. An exasperated Harper was caught looking again to end the eighth, stranding a runner at first. Harper went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .221.
"What I think I'd like for him to do is maybe not swing so much," Martinez said. "He's been swinging a lot, and I really think now is the time to take less swings and just go play."
Washington has been blanked three times in five games, including Scherzer's 2-0 loss to San Francisco on June 10 and a 3-0 road loss to the Yankees on June 12.
"It's surprising but it happens," Martinez said. "Sometimes you run into good pitchers."
Estrada left after Michael A. Taylor's two-out single put runners at first and second in the seventh. Danny Barnes came on and needed two pitches to retire Wilmer Difo on a groundout.
Barnes and Aaron Loup each got two outs and former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard finished the three-hitter for his third save in six opportunities.
Travis said it can be tough to get a good night's rest when Scherzer is scheduled to pitch the following day.
"He's a guy when you go to sleep at night, you know you're facing Max Scherzer the next day and your heart starts to beat a little bit already," Travis said. "You know you're up for a big challenge. He's the best in the game."
SEEN YOU BEFORE
Travis was drafted by Detroit, where Scherzer played from 2010 to 2014. During his first spring training with the Tigers, Travis faced Scherzer multiple times during intrasquad games.
Scherzer hadn't given up a homer to a right-handed batter since Giancarlo Stanton connected for Miami on Aug. 7, 2017.
Toronto has won six straight at home after losing 10 of its previous 11 at Rogers Centre.
Nationals: 1B Matt Adams was out of the lineup one day after taking a pitch off his left hand while attempting to bunt. X-rays Friday were inconclusive because of swelling, so Adams will have another X-ray when the Nationals return home Monday. With Adams unavailable, Daniel Murphy started at first, his first defensive action since returning from knee surgery Tuesday.
Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (3-7, 3.63) faces Blue Jays RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.66) in Sunday's series finale. Roark has won just once in his past seven starts. Gaviglio allowed a season-worst five earned runs in Monday's loss at Tampa Bay, his second straight losing decision.
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Updated June 16, 2018