Estrada outduels Scherzer as Jays top Nationals
Devon Travis' 2-run homer provides game's only offence
Devon Travis had some experience with Max Scherzer after facing him in spring training years ago.
He knew heading into Saturday's game how deadly Scherzer's stuff can be. And he was ready for it.
Travis hit a two-run homer off the Nationals ace, backing a solid start from Marco Estrada, as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated Washington 2-0 to guarantee a series win in the three-game interleague set.
"My first big league camp, Scherzer was still with the Tigers and I got to face him a little bit on the back field," said Travis, who was drafted by Detroit in 2012. "He's a guy who when you go to sleep at night and you know you're facing Max Scherzer the next day, your heart starts to beat a little already.
"You're up for a big challenge. He's the best in the game and I'm just so thankful I was able to contribute today."
Travis' homer — his second hit of the game off the three-time Cy Young Award winner — followed a hit by pitch to Luke Maile in the fifth inning and snapped a scoreless tie.
The Toronto second baseman, who also had a single in the third inning, provided half of the Blue Jays' four hits on the day.
But it was his homer that he was most proud of.
"It was kind of a front-door slider, he probably wasn't looking to throw there," Travis said. "He doesn't make many mistakes so when he does you better hope you take advantage."
The homer was the only blemish in an otherwise stellar start for Scherzer (11-3). He pitched six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out 10, walking one and hitting a batter.
Estrada (4-6) was better.
He allowed just three hits, walked two batters and struck out four over 6 2/3 innings, to win back-to-back decisions for the first time this season.
The veteran right-hander retired 18 of the first 21 batters he faced, including 12 straight between a Michael A. Taylor bunt single in the second inning and a two-out double from Trea Turner in the sixth.
Estrada left the game with two out in the seventh, following a walk and another base hit from Taylor, and received a rousing ovation from the crowd of 36,044 at Rogers Centre.
"It's nice to hear the fans behind you," Estrada said. "We're all working hard every day and I know at times we can be frustrating. We frustrate these fans because we're not winning. But we've put together some pretty good games lately and it's just nice to see that they have our backs."
Estrada had to be reminded of the last time he outpitched Scherzer — a 7-3 win in Washington on June 2, 2016 that sparked an 11-game win streak for the Blue Jays.
"Hopefully that happens again, we could use that." Estrada said. "We need it bad and I'm just glad we're playing really well right now.
"It's a good team over there and we've taken the first two (games of the series) so we can compete. We're competing right now."
Bullpen completes shutout
Toronto's bullpen shut down the Nationals (37-30) with 2 1/3 hitless innings. Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for his third save of the season, helping the Blue Jays (32-38) extend their home winning streak to six straight games for the first time since 2016.
Saturday's win snapped Toronto's franchise-record streak of 117 games without a shutout dating back to Aug. 10, 2017 against the Yankees.
The Nationals threatened in the eighth when reliever Aaron Loup walked Turner to set up Bryce Harper as the tying run at the plate. But Loup struck out the Washington star to escape unscathed.
Harper was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, extending a bleak start to the month for the 2015 NL MVP.
"I think good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week." said Harper, who came into the game batting just .172 over the last two weeks. "That's baseball."