TORONTO -- The Blue Jays might not be enjoying the type of first half they expected, but this team still has plenty of resiliency. Sunday's series finale against the Nationals once again proved just that.Toronto picked up its 18th come-from-behind victory of the season as Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays might not be enjoying the type of first half they expected, but this team still has plenty of resiliency. Sunday's series finale against the Nationals once again proved just that.
Toronto picked up its 18th come-from-behind victory of the season as Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte went back-to-back with a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Blue Jays to an 8-6 win -- and a three-game series sweep -- over Washington.
Right fielder Randal Grichuk had arguably his best game in a Blue Jays uniform with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate, which included a pair of home runs and four RBIs. Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis, Solarte and Hernandez all enjoyed multi-hit games as Toronto picked up its third sweep of the season.
"I feel like we've found a lot of consistency when we've been playing here lately," said Grichuk, whose team has won seven straight at home. "Obviously that [1-2] Tampa series threw a wrench at us, but I feel like we're swinging the bat well, and when our pitchers go out and give us a chance to win, we've been doing a good job of being able to score and get some leads. Hopefully that just continues."
Toronto fell behind 2-0 early but battled back in the bottom of the third, and that marked the start of a back-and-forth affair. The Blue Jays took the lead in the fourth and again in the seventh only to cough it up both times. It wasn't until Hernandez and Solarte homered in the eighth that Toronto took the lead for good, while Dennis Tepera closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The recent winning streak has improved the Blue Jays' record at home to .500 for the first time since May 13. Any sweep is an impressive feat, but it's even more significant when it comes against a team like the Nationals, who are a favorite to return to the postseason and had Giovany Gonzalez, Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark starting for them this weekend.
"It means a lot," Hernandez said. "Every win, every game that we win, means a lot for the team. We're just trying to get closer [to the] first and second spot to go the playoffs. I just think we're going to try the best that we can every day to try to get wins."
Grichuk left the Blue Jays at the end of April with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. At the time the injury almost seemed like a blessing, because he was batting just .106/.208/.227 over 25 games. Nobody ever wants to get hurt, but the lengthy layoff might have been just what Grichuk needed. Since his return, he has looked like a different player.
Since June 3, Grichuk is 15-for-41 (.366) with five homers, three doubles and 13 RBIs. His batting average has risen 97 points from .099 to .196, and unlike before, he regularly has been making hard contact. Sunday's game was arguably his best one yet for the Blue Jays, as he picked up the third multi-homer game of his career and the first since July 18, 2015, vs. the Mets. Hernandez and Solarte helped steal the game late, but Grichuk was the reason the Blue Jays had that opportunity.
"It was a huge day. He has been on a nice little roll," Gibbons said. "He has tremendous power. The big thing early in the season was contact, and the more he does that, those are the kinds of things he's capable of. He's feeling good. Good for him. He has worked at it, it was hard on him early on, but now we see him smiling a little bit more."
It was a rough day for both starters, as neither Toronto's Sam Gaviglio nor Washington's Tanner Roark was able to pitch into the fifth inning. Gaviglio allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out six in four innings. Roark allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts over four frames.
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Since joining the Blue Jays' big league roster on Sept. 1, 2017, Hernandez leads all Toronto players with 20 home runs and 52 RBIs. His solo homer in the bottom of the eighth also marked his fourth go-ahead home run of the season.
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Pillar stole a hit away from Washington's Daniel Murphy in the top of the seventh. Murphy hit a sinking liner to center, but Pillar got a perfect read on the ball and came up with the headfirst diving grab. According to Statcast™, it was a four-star grab that came with a 33-percent catch probability. Pillar had to travel 42 feet in 3.2 seconds to come up with the ball.
The Blue Jays will enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a two-game series against the Braves on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. Left-hander Jaime Garcia (2-5, 5.71 ERA) will take the mound against his former team while the Braves will counter with Canadian right-hander Mike Soroka (2-1, 2.57 ERA). Garcia has allowed four runs in two of his past three outings, and he's 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in his career vs. Atlanta.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.