Washington Nationals’ starter Josiah Gray struck out 10 of 22 Atlanta Braves’ batters in five innings pitched tonight in Truist Park, and generated 20 swinging strikes overall, (six of them with his four-seam fastball, 12 with his curve, and two with his slider), and he got 11 called strikes, (six with his fastball; two with his curve, and three with his slider), but the two runs scored by the home team while he was on the mound (one earned, on a solo home run by Jorge Soler) looked like they would be enough until the Nationals scored three in the top of the ninth with Riley Adams’ first MLB home run the difference in a 3-2 win.
Gray vs the Braves: In his first start for the Nationals following the trade from the Dodgers, 23-year-old right-hander Josiah Gray held the Phillies to a run on four hits in five innings of work, in which he walked two and struck out two, throwing 71 pitches before new manager Davey Martinez decided that was enough.
Gray wanted to keep going.
“When I told him he was done, he looked at me like, “Hey?’” Martinez told reporters.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’re done.’ And he gets it. He understands. I like the fact that he wanted to go back out there. That to me means a lot.”
Josiah Gray, 84mph Slider and 94mph Fastball, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/ZXXKxgtQl3— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 8, 2021
Tonight in Atlanta’s Truist Park, Gray fell behind early, when he threw a 95 MPH 1-1 fastball down the middle to Jorge Soler, who hit it out to center for a one-out solo shot in the first, and a 1-0 Braves’ lead.
Gray struck out five straight between the first and third innings, though the fifth, Stephen Vogt, reached base when the third strike bounced in front of home and off of Nationals’ catcher Riley Adams. Vogt moved up on a sac bunt, and scored when Ozzie Albies singled to center and Andrew Stevenson bobbled the ball, 2-0.
Gray held it there through five, finishing the night with 10 Ks from 22 batters faced, and 82 pitches overall in the outing...
Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 82 P, 51 S, 1/5 GO/FO.
Morton vs the Nationals: Charlie Morton, 37, and in his 14th season in the majors, took the mound tonight with a 3.69 ERA, 42 walks, 141 Ks, and a .211/.296/.321 line against in 122 IP.
Morton faced the Nationals once earlier this season, back in May, giving up six hits, three walks, and three earned runs in five innings of work in a 5-3 win for the Braves.
Last time out before tonight, the veteran hurler had an eight start unbeaten streak (over which he was 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a .178/.269/.287 line against in 50 IP) snapped in spite of the fact that he had a decent outing, giving up three hits and two runs in six innings.
Morton was sharp tonight too keeping the Nationals off-balance and holding them to just two hits through five scoreless, as he walked no one, and struck out four with the Braves jumping out to a 2-0 lead after three.
Charlie Morton, Filthy Curveballs. pic.twitter.com/5ivQKVMngt— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 8, 2021
Morton issued his first walk of the game in the first at bat of the sixth, putting Nats’ catcher Riley Adams on, so Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez went to his bench for Juan Soto, who missed the previous game with a knee issue, and Soto walked as well to put two on with no one out. Alcides Escobar singled one out later, to load the bases, but Yadiel Hernández K’d chasing an 0-2 fastball outside, leaving it up to Josh Bell, who K’d swinging as well.
Charlie Morton’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 82 P, 51 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Streaks: Carter Kieboom started the night with a six-game hitting streak, over which he’s gone 9 for 22 (.409/.480/.727) with a double, two home runs, three walks, and four Ks.
Yadiel Hernández started the night with a nine-game hit streak going, over which he was 15 for 31 (.484/.529/.774) with three doubles and two home runs.
Charlie Morton held the Nationals to just two hits through five, and neither of them were by either Kieboom or Hernández, and neither of them got anything off the Braves’ bullpen, so their streaks ended tonight.
Bullpen Action: Mason Thompson was the first pitcher out of the ‘pen for the Nationals, and the hard-throwing righty struck out two and stranded a two-out single in a 13-pitch frame.
Tyler Matzek struck out two in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the seventh.
Ryne Harper worked around a two-out walk in a 22-pitch bottom of the seventh.
Luke Jackson gave up a one-out double and a two-out walk in the top of the eighth, but a fly to the track in left off of Yadiel Hernandez’s bat ended the threat.
Andres Machado struck out two in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.
Will Smith walked Josh Bell to start the top of the ninth, and Ryan Zimmerman doubled in the next at bat. Carter Kieboom sent a fly to short left field for out No. 1, not deep enough for a sac fly. Luis García stepped in next and fell behind 1-2, but brought a run in with a groundout, 2-1, and Riley Adams followed with a two-run home run to left (and into the second deck) on a first-pitch fastball, 3-2 Nationals. First MLB HR for Adams.
Kyle Finnegan came on for the save opportunity and retired the side in order to end it.
Final Score: 3-2 Nationals
Nationals now 50-61