Washington ultimately spoiled Toronto’s home opener with a 4-0 win in the 10th inning, but praise for the young Blue Jays right-hander came from all corners after the game.
“There’s nothing better for a manager to say, ‘Dude, we might have a chance to win every five days,’ said Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo. “That’s what I thought today when he pitched those five innings. ”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez was also impressed.
“Toronto has a good one,” he said. “He’s got a good live fastball. He threw some really good breaking balls. He’s gonna be really good. ”
Washington starter Max Scherzer was equally lively on a hot evening in the U.S. capital, working 7 1/3 scoreless innings as the Blue Jays (3-3) were excluded for the first time this season.
The Nationals (2-4) scorched a point against reliever Shun Yamaguchi before Asdrubal Cabrera opened the game with a three-point triple.
Yamaguchi (0-2) almost came out of the 10th round unscathed after pushing Carter Kieboom and Andrew Stevenson to load the bases. Pinch runner Emilio Bonifacio started the frame on second base.
After back-to-bat strikeouts, Adam Eaton hit a tough comeback that Cavan Biggio picked up before diving to second base to try and beat Stevenson for strength. Toronto disputed the safe call, but the decision stood with Bonifacio scoring the game’s first inning.
Tanner Rainey worked the 10th to preserve the shutout for the Nationals (2-4), who will go for a four-game series division Thursday afternoon.
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young award winner, struck out 10 and allowed three hits. Daniel Hudson (1-0) recorded five strikeouts for the win.
The Blue Jays will play so-called home games at highway parks until the 2020 team home at Sahlen Field in Buffalo is ready on August 11. concerns about COVID-19.
It created a most unusual sensation as Toronto performed in their white uniforms. The team’s stadium operations team sent introductory tapes of the players to Washington so the Blue Jays had more of a pitch feel.
In a particularly strange moment, “OK Blue Jays” was played in the seventh round.
Pearson, a six-foot-six right-hander, kept the Nationals off balance throughout his appearance, giving up two hits, two marches and taking out five. On a count of 80 pitches for his debut, he threw 48 of 75 pitches for strikes.
“I had a little bit of everything working,” Pearson said. “The fastpitch command was there at times when I needed it. It still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. But man, my slider was on tonight. It was my big field.
“It got me out of a lot of jams and I had some big strikeouts on it. ”
Pearson said he felt comfortable from the start and showed no signs of early nervousness.
“I was getting it all in in the first run,” he said. “I look around, I just take mental pictures of where I was. ”
Pearson started off with a bang, opening with a 95 mph fastball in the corner before getting Trea Turner to wave two brittle balls for the out on the out.
Relying mostly on his heater and slider, Pearson occasionally mixed up curves and changes to his appearance. He hit 99 mph in the second run and pulled the side in order.
“Her makeup is very good and her fluency is very good,” Montoyo said. “I think those two things are what good pitchers have and he has it. ”
Pearson gave Turner a field single in the third and a starting double for Eric Thames in the fourth. Thames advanced to third but Pearson put Kieboom out on three shots to end the threat, capping her with a 99 mph fastball to her knees.
Pearson, 23, whipped up two more hitters in the fifth and Turner flew to finish the inning. The first-round draft pick was all smiles in the dugout afterward as teammates Montoyo and pitching coach Pete Walker congratulated him on the effort.
Simply put, the youngster was as advertised.
“For a young man he’s really confident and that’s awesome,” Montoyo said. “I loved what I saw. ”
The Blue Jays almost made it into the table in the eighth inning. Scherzer retired 13 times in a row before handing a first single to Joe Panik.
Anthony Alford came on as a pinch runner, stole second and went to third on a wide pickup attempt. With his pitch count at 112, Scherzer was taken out after stepping on Derek Fisher.
Hudson, a former Blue Jay, allowed Teoscar Hernandez to score a double play and hit the side in the ninth.
By selecting Pearson’s contract only on Wednesday, he will not get a full year of service in 2020 and his free agent eligibility will not begin until after the 2026 campaign.
28th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Pearson opened the season with the three-cab team. He parted ways last year between Class A from Dunedin, double A from New Hampshire and triple A from Buffalo.
It’s possible Pearson could make 10 to 12 starts during the regular season, which has been shortened to 60 games due to the pandemic.
Notes: Prior to the game, the Blue Jays offered left-hander Brian Moran to join the team’s cab team to make room for Pearson. … Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette (hamstrings) and outfielder Randal Grichuk (back) remain with injuries on a daily basis. … Rowdy Tellez was sent off in the 10th inning for arguing after a strikeout. Blue Jays coach Dante Bichette has also been sent off. … The Blue Jays will have a Friday off day before a Saturday double in Philadelphia. Toronto will serve as the home team again for the three-game series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 29, 2020.