Josiah Gray held the Pittsburgh Pirates to two runs through four innings, and took the hill in PNC Park in the fifth with a 5-2 lead, but gave up a one-out walk, and a two-run home run in the next at bat, then allowed a two-out, game-tying solo shot, his 12th and 13th home runs allowed in 40 IP since joining the Washington Nationals in the trade deadline deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the LA Dodgers.
Gray walked six batters overall, and Alberto Baldonado and Andres Machado walked two each in the sixth, loading the bases, and forcing in a run on Machado’s second free pass, before an infield single made it a 7-5 game in the Pirates’ favor.
Two more runs scored in the Pirates’ half of the sixth, and the home team went on to a 10-7 win.
Gray vs the Pirates: Josiah Gray gave up three earned runs or less in each of his first five starts for the Nationals after coming over from the Dodgers at the trade deadline, but in Gray’s last two outings before tonight, the 23-year-old righty gave up a combined total of 12 earned runs, six in each appearance for a 15.43 ERA In 7 IP.
“Just not executing early in counts, a lot of 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 counts, not putting myself in a good position to go get those hitters out,” Gray said when asked to diagnose his own issues.
“Go back to the drawing board, fix some things and work on some things, but I’m going to go out there in another five days and give it my all and do what I got to do.”
Gray worked around a one-out walk in the first inning tonight, and retired the side in order in the second, but a leadoff walk, sac bunt, and two-out error on a throw to second base by Keibert Ruiz put the batter who’d walked, Hoy Park, on third, before a second walk, this one to Yoshi Tsutsugo, put runners on the corners with two down. Bryan Reynolds stepped in next and took the third walk of the inning, loading the bases in front of Colin Moran, whose single to right field drove in the first run of the game for either team, 1-0 Pirates, but a throw home from Juan Soto got Tsutsugo for out No. 3... or so it appeared, but upon review, the umpires ruled that Ruiz was blocking the plate, and Tsutsugo was ruled safe, 2-0.
Upon further review, we scored a pair. pic.twitter.com/idExURrCI0— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 11, 2021
it was 3-2 in the Nationals’ favor, courtesy of a bases-loaded, three-run double by Keibert Ruiz, when Gray came back out for the bottom of the fourth, and worked around another walk in a 19-pitch frame that left him at 80 pitches total after four.
It was 5-2 in the Nats’ favor when Gray returned to the mound in the fifth and gave up a one-out walk to Tsutsugo in front of Bryan Reynolds, who hit a 95 MPH first-pitch fastball to right to make it a one-run game, 5-4, and one out later Ben Gamel hit a 2-0 fastball to right field, 5-5 at the end of a 20-pitch frame which left Gray at 100 pitches total.
Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 100 P, 54 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Crowe vs the Nationals: Wil Crowe, 27, and a 2017 2nd Round pick by the Nationals, was dealt to the Pirates this past winter in the trade that brought Josh Bell to D.C.
In 22 games and 21 starts for Pittsburgh heading into tonight’s outing, the right-hander had a 5.94 ERA, 48 walks, 89 Ks, and a .286/.374/.534 line against in 97 IP.
Last time out before tonight, Crowe went just three innings, giving up seven hits, two walks, and seven runs in an 11-8 loss to the Cubs.
Tonight in PNC Park, the right-hander retired the first eight Nats’ batters he faced before he issued a two-out walk to the opposing pitcher, Josiah Gray, and he had a nine-pitch battle in the next at-bat, but got a pop behind home for out No. 3 of a 26-pitch frame that left him at 52 total after three scoreless.
Alcides Escobar singled to center for the first hit of the game off Crowe in the first at-bat of the fourth, and Juan Soto and Josh Bell followed with the second and third hits, loading’em up for Yadiel Hernández, a half-inning after a bases-loaded single for the Pirates gave them a 2-0 lead. But both Hernández and Carter Kieboom K’d swinging, leaving it up to Keibert Ruiz, who went down for a low, 0-0 curveball and lined it to the right-center gap for a base-clearing double (his first in the majors ... double, that is) and a 3-2 lead.
Wil Crowe’s Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 78 P, 46 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Bell Keeps Hitting: Josh Bell started the night with hits in 16 of his last 18 games, going 21 for 67 (.313 AVG) over that stretch, with four doubles, six home runs, 15 RBIs, 13 walks, and eight runs scored, and he’d, “... reached base safely in 34 of 80 plate appearances (.425 OBP) and has posted a .642 slugging percentage during this stretch,” as the Nats noted in their pregame notes before tonight’s game.
A single in his second at bat gave him hits in 17 of 19 games, and he added another the third time up to the plate.
Bullpen Action: Anthony Banda took over for the Pirates in the top of the fifth and gave up back-to-back doubles by Lane Thomas and Alcides Escobar as the Nationals added to the lead, 4-2. Escobar moved up to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI line drive off of Juan Soto’s bat, 5-2.
Righty Kyle Keller came on for the Bucs in the top of the sixth and hit Keibert Ruiz in the jaw with a 95 MPH fastball on the second pitch he threw, knocking the 23-year-old catcher out of the game, though it looked like it caught a lot of ear flap which hopefully may spared him from a broken jaw.
Alberto Baldonado came out of the bullpen for the Nationals in the sixth and gave up back-to-back walks to the first two batters he faced before recording an out on a groundout that moved both runners into scoring position.
Andres Machado took over on the mound with runners on second and third and one out, and walked Ke’Bryan Hayes to load the bases in front of Yoshi Tsutsugo, who struck out swinging, before Bryan Reynolds took the fourth walk of the inning to force in the go-ahead run, 6-5 Pirates, before an RBI single by Colin Moran made it 7-5.
It really is a game of inches... pic.twitter.com/iS93d9kltF— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 12, 2021
Machado got a ground ball that looked like it would get him out No. 3, but Luis García booted it on the outfield grass in short right and two more runs scored to make it 9-5 Pirates.
Juan Soto singled and Josh Bell walked with one out and Chasen Shreve on the mound for the Pirates in the top of the seventh, and Yadiel Hernández followed with a line drive, RBI single to left on an 0-1 slider outside to make it a three-run game, 9-6 Bucs, after six and a half in Pittsburgh.
Sam Clay gave up a one-out single by Hoy Park and an RBI double by Kevin Newman which made it a four-run game again, 10-6 Pirates.
Newman gets us to double digits! pic.twitter.com/tODaErmO8A— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 12, 2021
Ryan Zimmerman hit a pinch hit home run to center to lead off the eighth, connecting for his 13th home run on the season, 10-7 Pirates.
Ryne Harper tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep it a three-run game.
Chris Stratton came on to end it in the ninth and retired the Nationals in order to end it.
Final Score: 10-7 Pirates
Nationals now 58-84