The Blue Jays' loss last night to the Nationals was a frustrating one, but the bigger concern was the exit of starter Brandon Morrow after just nine pitches.
While Toronto awaits word on the condition of its most consistent hurler this season, the club will look for Henderson Alvarez to go deep in tonight's middle contest of a three-game series with Washington after having to get 27 outs from its bullpen on Monday.
The Blue Jays would love for Alvarez to duplicate his most recent outing, a seven-inning effort versus the White Sox on Thursday. It was the right- hander's longest outing since his last win on May 10 as he has gone 0-3 with a 5.58 earned run average in five starts since.
Alvarez gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk while not factoring into the decision of a 4-3 defeat. Toronto has lost each game over the 22-year- old's winless drought.
Alvarez is 3-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 12 starts this season and will face the Nationals for the first time.
The Blue Jays lost for the fourth time in five games with last night's 6-3 defeat in which Morrow took the loss after getting charged with a run. He gave up a leadoff double to Steve Lombardozzi before being forced to exit with an injury on his left side. Chad Beck came into the game -- one of five relief pitchers used by Toronto on the night -- and served up a run-scoring single to Bryce Harper.
Toronto's offense failed to step up after losing Morrow early, logging just five hits in the game. Two of those were homers, a solo shot by Colby Rasmus and a pinch-hit two-run homer off the bat of Yan Gomes.
Now the Blue Jays will hold their collective breaths on the status of Morrow.
"He felt something in the left oblique area. We'll get a better read on his condition after further tests are done [Tuesday], but I think at this point, it's safe to say it's probably substantial in terms of what he's dealing with right now," said manager John Farrell.
"Any kind of time length, there's really no read on that yet until we get the further testing, but it's unfortunate given how well he has been pitching and what he means to this rotation, this staff and, certainly, this team."
Washington took advantage of Toronto's bullpen and got homers from Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel, while Harper went 3-for-4 and also scored a pair of runs in the Nationals' fourth straight win that increased their lead over the second-place Braves in the National League East to three games.
Edwin Jackson allowed two runs over eight-plus innings in the victory, which moved Washington a season-high 13 games over .500 (36-23) for the first time since July of 2005.
"He pitched one heck of a ball game," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of his starter. "He was dominant. ... What a great effort."
Washington did lose outfielder Roger Bernadina to a strained right hamstring suffered while going from first to third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.
In just their fourth trip to Canada since relocating from Montreal prior to the 2005 season, Washington won for just the third time in its last 10 contests at Toronto.
The Nats try to secure a series victory tonight behind Chien-Ming Wang, who has lost both starts this season after getting a win in relief in his season debut on May 25.
The 32-year-old righty was making just his 13th start since 2010 due to a series of injuries on Thursday versus the Mets and was in and out of trouble all game. He managed to get out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings without damage and only ended up allowing two runs over 5 1/3 frames despite eight hits and three walks. Still, he took a 3-1 setback and is 1-2 with a 5.11 ERA on the season.
"I liked his arm strength and everything," Johnson said of Wang. "He's having a little problem, he gets to the side of the ball. He doesn't stay on top of it. Sometimes he gets out of the slot that he needs to be in. When he stays in that slot, his stuff is outstanding. It's just a consistency thing with him."
Wang is 4-2 with a 4.82 ERA in 10 career outings versus the Blue Jays.