Yadiel Hernández, Juan Soto, and Luis García all homered early in the series finale with the Miami Marlins tonight in loanDepot park, giving Washington Nationals’ right-hander Josiah Gray a 4-0 lead to work with before the home team got on the board, 4-1 after four. And a three-run seventh for the Nats put this one out of reach. With a 7-5 win tonight, they took 2 of 3 in Miami. Next Stop: Cincinnati.
Gray vs Miami: Josiah Gray held the Marlins to two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings of work back on August 25th, but in four starts since, the Nationals’ 23-year-old right-hander had struggled, with an 11.42 ERA, an 8.35 FIP, 14 walks, 15 Ks, and six homers allowed in 17 1⁄3 IP over that stretch.
In spite of the fact that he ended up giving up three hits, four walks, and five runs in 5 1⁄3 IP last time out, against the Colorado Rockies, Gray said afterwards that overall he was happy with his work in the outing.
“Today was so much better than the last three outings before this,” Gray said, and he had a number of positives to take away from the start, so, he added, “I’m just going to take away the positives and ride the high because I know I did a lot of good things today.”
Taking on the Marlins again tonight, Gray worked around a leadoff single and a two-out walk in a 21-pitch first, then retired seven-straight Miami hitters as the Nationals went up 4-0 with runs in the second, third, and fourth innings (all on home runs). Gray got up to nine in-a-row retired with the first two outs of the home-half of the fourth, but Lewis Brinson doubled with two down and scored on an RBI single to left by Lewin Díaz to get the Fish on the board, 4-1 after four.
Juan Soto made an all-or-nothing lunging effort to get to Bryan De La Cruz’s one-out liner to right field in the bottom of the sixth, but came up empty, allowing De La Cruz to run around to third base for a triple, and an RBI single by Jesús Sánchez in the next at-bat made it a 4-2 game in the Nationals’ favor. Lewis Brinson reached first on a hard-hit grounder to third that Carter Kieboom fielded, but bobbled, putting two on with one out, but Gray got Lewin Díaz swinging with a 96 MPH 0-2 fastball for out No. 2, then popped Joe Panik for out No. 3, of a 29-pitch frame which left him at 100 pitches even on the night...
Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 100 P, 71 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
On Wednesdays we throw Gray.@JGrayy_ // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/ss4ps5FOpi— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 23, 2021
Hernandez vs D.C.: Elieser Hernandez earned his first win of the season back on August 26th in Miami, when the Marlins’ righty held the Nationals to two runs on seven hits over what ended up being five innings of work in a 7-5 win for the Fish.
In three starts since, the 26-year-old starter had put up a 4.11 ERA, a 4.53 FIP, seven walks, 13 Ks, and a .254/.328/.424 line against in 15 1⁄3 IP in those appearances.
Last time out before tonight, Hernandez walked five and gave up five hits, but allowed just two runs, one earned, in a 5 2⁄3-inning start against the Pirates.
Tonight, at home in loanDepot park, Hernandez tossed a scoreless, 13-pitch first, but Yadiel Hernández hit a 2-2 slider out to center to lead off the second with a 399-foot homer to put the Nationals up 1-0 early. No. 9 of 2021 for Hernández.
YADI WITH A BODY#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/SND5PHNiok— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 22, 2021
Alcides Escobar singled to lead off the third, and Juan Soto stepped in next and hit a slider up in the zone out to right for a two-run shot and a 3-0 lead. Soto’s 27th of 2021 is a 387 ft. blast.
lol this is the 2nd-hardest ball Juan Soto's crushed for an XBH tonight...— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 22, 2021
...it's the 3rd inning.@JuanSoto25_ // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/JILeg6efQf
Luis García hit a first-pitch fastball out to right with one out in the fourth, for his 6th of 2021, and a 4-0 lead on Hernandez and the Fish.
Psssst...— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 22, 2021
Luis García is younger than 64 of @MLBPipeline's Top 100 prospects.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/HsBLc8WvSo
Hernandez issued back-to-back walks to Alcides Escobar and Juan Soto in the fifth, before Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly went to the bullpen...
Elieser Hernandez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 3 HRs, 78 P, 53 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
More Like Walk Soto Amirite?: Juan Soto started the night with a career-high 128 walks this season,” which the Nats noted were the, “second-most in a season in Nationals’ history (‘05-present), which left him, “three walks shy of the Nationals’ record for most walks in a season set by Bryce Harper in 2018, when he walked 131 times. Soto was 3 for 3 with a walk through seven tonight, and when he came up in the eighth with a runner in scoring position and two out, Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly put him on, with the intentional walk tying the franchise record for walks in a season.
Bullpen Action: Steven Okert took over with two on and no one out in the Nationals’ fifth, and the left-hander and dialed up a double play off Josh Bell’s bat, and a fly to center field by Yadiel Hernández stranded both runners.
Okert returned to the mound in the sixth, and worked around a hit-by-pitch and a two-out single, with Josiah Gray lining one to right with two down and getting thrown out at first base by Marlins’ right fielder Jesús Sánchez.
Zach Thompson walked Lane Thomas to start the top of the seventh inning, and back-to-back singles by Alcides Escobar and Juan Soto brought Thomas around for the fifth run scored for the visiting team, 5-2 Nationals. Soto’s hit left him 3 for 3 on the night, with 3 RBIs, and a walk. Escobar’s hit, FWIW, left him 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored on the night. Josh Bell followed with a sac fly that scored Escobar, 6-2, and Yadiel Hernández hit double No. 8 of 2021 to bring Soto in, 7-2 after six and a half.
Austin Voth worked around a leadoff double in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
Luis Madero took over for Miami in the top of the eighth, and worked around a one-out, two-base hit by Lane Thomas to keep it a 7-2 game.
Patrick Murphy, with help from a diving Carter Kieboom, retired the Marlins in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Ryne Harper got the ninth for the Nats and gave up a leadoff single by Lewin Díaz and a two-run home run by Nick Fortes, 7-4 Nationals. Sandy León stepped in with one out and sent a solo shot to right field, 7-5. That was it for Harper.
Tanner Rainey came on in the save situation, and ended it with two quick outs.
Final Score: 7-5 Nationals
Nationals now 63-89