TORONTO -- The Blue Jays didn't necessarily acquire Yangervis Solarte because of his power, but he has been providing plenty of pop during his first season in Toronto.Solarte's slugging surge continued on Friday night with a two-homer game that helped lead the Blue Jays to a 6-5 victory over the
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays didn't necessarily acquire Yangervis Solarte because of his power, but he has been providing plenty of pop during his first season in Toronto.
Solarte's slugging surge continued on Friday night with a two-homer game that helped lead the Blue Jays to a 6-5 victory over the Nationals at Rogers Centre. Devon Travis also homered while Aaron Sanchez tossed six strong innings, but it was Solarte who once again stole the show.
Prior to 2018, Solarte had never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. In 66 games this season, the versatile infielder has a team-leading 14 homers with 40 RBIs, which also tops the Blue Jays. Solarte might not be a star, but he clearly has become one of Toronto's most successful pickups over the past 12 months, as he's taken over the No. 3 spot of the lineup with a .792 OPS.
"He played in probably one of the toughest places to hit home runs out there in San Diego the last few years," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Solarte, who played for the Padres from 2014-17. "I'm sure that's a factor. It's got to be a factor. Everybody likes hitting here, everybody likes hitting in our division. He has a chance to shatter that [career high]."
Solarte and Travis homered off Nationals lefty Giovany Gonzalez, who was charged with five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out three. Gonzalez deserved a better fate, but a defensive miscue by right fielder Adam Eaton in the top of the seventh ultimately cost him and played a major role in Toronto's three-run frame. Solarte added the dagger with a two-run shot off Justin Miller after Gonzalez left the game.
The 30-year-old Solarte also became the ninth Blue Jay player all-time to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. The native of Venezuela homered from the right side of the plate in the third and from the left side in the seventh. The last Blue Jays player to accomplish the same feat was Kendrys Morales, who did it on July 27, 2017, against Oakland. Solarte also did it on May 27, 2016, vs. Arizona as a member of the Padres.
"Of course, it's hard, but it's my job and I'm just trying to do my best every time I go out there," Solarte said through an interpreter after the game. "I was lucky enough, I had good opportunities, we took advantage of it and just happy that we got the win today."
Sanchez did not factor into the decision despite a solid night. He was charged with three runs on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight, which matched his season high. Sanchez allowed one run in each of the first two innings and another in the fifth on a wild pitch, but for the most part he was able to limit the damage, even as the Nationals went 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position against him.
"First couple of months, I was trying to get back into the swing of things," said Sanchez, who tossed a season-high 104 pitches. "As of late, it has been trending up, minus a few starts there in May. Hopefully I can continue to keep doing that and find myself in a good position at the end of the year."
The Blue Jays, who were coming off a series loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, have now won five consecutive home games for the first time since May 10-14, 2017. Toronto is now 6-5 over its last 11 games, which followed a 19-game stretch that saw the club win just four times. The Blue Jays also improved to 4-2 in Interleague Play this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sealing the deal:Dennis Tepera picked up his fourth save in seven opportunities this season with a scoreless ninth. Washington's Wilmer Difo led off the inning with a single to right, stole second to move into scoring position with nobody out, then moved up another base when Brian Goodwin flew out to deep right field. But Eaton grounded out against a drawn-in infield, and Tepera struck out Trea Turner to end the game.
"I think he's doing a good job," Gibbons said of Tepera, who continues to fill in for the absent Roberto Osuna. "He has the stuff to do it, and I think, little by little, he's gaining confidence out there. We had that three-run lead and they found two or three holes to climb back into it. Now you're staring at a one-run lead and the leadoff guy gets on, that's never a good feeling. But the more success he has doing that, especially in the tight, tight, games, the better off he's going to be."
Catching a break: Sometimes you need to be lucky to be good. After Travis led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, Teoscar Hernandez lifted a high -- but routine -- fly ball to right field. Eaton appeared to lose the ball in the lights and instead of an easy out Hernandez was credited with a ground-rule double. Justin Smoak followed in the very next at-bat with a sacrifice fly and Solarte later delivered a two-run shot over the wall in right field. That gave Toronto its 17th come-from-behind victory of the season.
The Blue Jays snapped their franchise-long 11-game losing streak vs. left-handed starters. Toronto's previous long was eight consecutive losses vs. a lefty in 1993.
Right-hander Marco Estrada (3-6, 5.09 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday afternoon when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series against the Nationals, with first pitch scheduled for 4:07 p.m. ET. Estrada is coming off two strong outings, including a six-inning, two-run performance against the Orioles in which he had a season-high nine strikeouts. The Nationals will counter with ace right-hander Max Scherzer (10-2, 2.00).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.