Austin Voth hit a Tampa Bay Rays’ batter with two out in the bottom of the first inning on Wednesday afternoon, putting Randy Arozarena on in front of Nate Lowe, who hit an 0-2 curve into the right field corner for an RBI double, 1-0 Rays.
Voth held the home team in Tropicana Field there through four in the second of two for the Washington Nationals with the AL-East leading Rays, working around a leadoff hit in the second, and two walks (one intentional) in the third, before stranding a two-out triple in the fourth to keep it a 1-0 game in the Rays’ favor.
He was up to 88 pitches after stranding a one-out double and a two-out intentional walk in a 16-pitch fifth, and the Nationals jumped ahead 2-1 on a two-run blast by Asdrúbal Cabrera in the top of the sixth so manager Davey Martinez went to the bullpen.
Austin Voth’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 88 P, 56 S, 1/4 GO/FO.
Nats’ closer Daniel Hudson blew the one-run lead in the ninth, when he gave up a two-out, two-strike home run to right by Brandon Lowe, but Nationals’ second baseman Luis García hit a two-run shot in the top of the tenth, then Kyle McGowin locked down the win with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning in which he struck out the side.
Voth was still going through his post-start routine behind the scenes when García homered, but he saw it.
“As soon as he hit it it was definitely gone, like he knew it when he hit it and everything, it was great to see,” the 28-year-old starter said.
Voth’s outing was a step in the right direction in an up-and-mostly-down 2020 campaign in which he’s struggled to go deep in his outings and given up a lot of runs (7.17 ERA after the game on Wednesday).
“I loved that he was attacking the strike zone with his fastball. It’s great. He established his fastball, and his secondary pitches were a lot better,” manager Davey Martinez said after a 4-2 win
“He went after them today with his fastball, and I loved it,” Martinez added.
“I told him, ‘That’s what I remember you being.’ So, just continue to build off of that and your next start build off of that one, but that was really good.”
“It was huge,” Voth said when asked what it meant for him to have a solid outing after he’d struggled this season.
“Just being able to come out here and throw the way I did today. I’ve been working hard week in and week out it seems like I haven’t been getting progress for the longest time.
“And to get a start like today, is great.”
Voth generated 10 swinging strikes with his four-seam fastball and five with his cutter, and 10 called strikes on the day (four with his four-seam; two with his cutter; and four with his curve), and his fastball (average 91.8 MPH this season) sat 92-94.
“The main thing for me was I was using my legs today, properly,” Voth said, in talking about the success he had overall and with his fastball.
“And I felt like I still had energy and stuff left in the tank in the fifth inning, and I felt like I could got back out for the sixth inning even though I had 90 pitches and whatnot.
“But I had a lot more life on my fastball because I was using my legs, and I was able to work off my fastball on that.”
That’s something Voth has been working on in recent weeks after a season spent tweaking his mechanics and looking for fixes that could turn things around.
“I’ve been doing a couple of new exercises before I throw where I’m just trying to focus on feeling my right glute before I go to throw a ball and whatnot, and it seems to be helping.”
The latest tweak, he explained, involves, “basically, sticking my foot, my back foot that’s on the rubber, leaving that as long as possible. It’s been coming off the rubber early and so when that happens I lose power, I lose momentum, and I’m not able to drive off the back side of the rubber.
“And so just being able to place my foot down, feel my glute, and then leave it there as long as possible and then explode at the very last second is basically what I was able to do today.”
It was just the third time this season Voth made it through five innings, and though he was not thrilled with his pitch efficiency, he was happy overall.
“I’d say that’s a little high for five innings,” he said of his pitch count, “... but it was definitely an improvement from my past outings, where I’ve been 88 pitches in the third or the fourth and whatnot, but I feel like I was able to get through five today because I was attacking the zone and I wasn’t afraid of what the result was going to be. I did walk a few guys, but when guys were on base I made sure to make good pitches and it was a good day.”