WASHINGTON — Starlin Castro is coming off a four-hit game. His Washington Nationals finally have their first consecutive wins of the season. So much for momentum, though.
That’s because now the Nationals — and their opponents Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays — need to take four days off, a coronavirus-caused “mini All-Star break,” as Washington manager Dave Martinez called it.
Castro scored twice, rookie Carter Kieboom reached base four times and Michael A. Taylor homered as the “visiting” Nationals knocked around struggling Toronto starter Hyun-Jin Ryu to beat the home-away-from-home Blue Jays 6-4 Thursday.
“I’ve been feeling good. I’ve been hitting the ball hard,” said Castro, batting .360 through seven games in his first year with the Nationals. “The bad thing is, tomorrow we’re not going to play. And the next day, we’re not going to play. It’s tough.”
Kurt Suzuki delivered a two-run double and Asdrúbal Cabrera added an RBI double off Ryu (0-1), who gave up Taylor’s two-run shot to straightaway centre that he celebrated with a socially distanced dugout dance in the fourth. Taylor is 2 for 14 this season, a .143 average, but both hits cleared the fences.
Ryu’s ERA is 8.00 after he allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, his second start under an $80 million, four-year deal Toronto gave him after he was second in NL Cy Young Award voting for the Dodgers in 2019.
“I tried to replicate what I’d done in the past against the team,” Ryu, who had a 1.37 ERA against Washington last season, said through an interpreter, “but it just didn’t work out like I wanted.”
Erick Fedde, making his second start in place of a sidelined Stephen Strasburg, gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings. Ryne Harper (1-0) followed and got five outs for the win. Daniel Hudson earned his first save.
And now they’ll get to relax Friday, then be back at Nationals Park to practice Saturday and Sunday — when the Blue Jays plan to do the same thing in the same place.
“Tomorrow, I want these guys just to take off. Don’t do anything. Basically, sit at home. Just rest,” Martinez said. “Saturday, we’re going to get after it again.”
Teoscar Hernández homered twice, giving him four during this four-game series at Washington, and Cavan Biggio hit a solo shot for Toronto.
Hernández said he’s been trying “to stay with the same plan I had at the end of last year: Have more patience. That’s the key to the good start.”
Technically, the Blue Jays were the “home” team for the past two games in D.C.; they are barred from their Toronto stadium in 2020 and waiting for a Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo to be readied for major league action.
So Washington will be the Blue Jays’ home for a bit longer. Neither they nor the Nationals will play again until Tuesday, a four-day gap that is normally unheard of in baseball, where clubs can go weeks at a time without any respite.
In a season already delayed and cut to 60 games — at least — by the pandemic, odd scheduling is the norm now. Washington was supposed to be at Miami on Friday through Sunday, but the Marlins had more than half-a-roster’s worth of players test positive for the coronavirus and so aren’t allowed to play until next week at the earliest.
The Blue Jays were supposed to be in Philadelphia this weekend, but that series was postponed because the Phillies just hosted the Marlins.
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said his squad would travel to Atlanta after a workout Sunday.
“This has never happened before, so we’re kind of doing things on the fly,” Montoyo said. “The main thing is to go day-to-day and make sure we try and keep guys sharp.”
Home plate umpire Joe West was bloodied when he was hit in the head by Bo Bichette’s flying bat in the first inning. The 67-year-old West left but returned in the third. Vic Carapazza took over as plate umpire; West shifted to third base.
Nationals: RHP Will Harris has “a little bit of a groin thing going on,” Martinez said. “We’re hoping to nip it in the bud and get him ready by Tuesday.” … 1B-DH Howie Kendrick missed a second game in a row because of upper back stiffness. Josh Harrison made his debut for Washington, going 0 for 4 as the DH.
Blue Jays: RF Derek Fisher left after the third inning with a tight left quad. … Bichette doubled twice in his return after missing three games with a tight left hamstring.
A lot of waiting around until the next game for both the Nationals and Blue Jays.
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Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press