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Josiah Gray Ks 9 Reds’ hitters in six innings in Nationals’ 8-5 win in GABP...

Josiah Gray struck out nine and held the Reds to three runs (on a 3-run HR) in the Nationals’ win on Friday...

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Josiah Gray acknowledged, after giving up five hits, three walks, and seven runs in just three innings on the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers who traded him to D.C. in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner deal at last July 30th’s trade deadline, that he was really pressing a bit trying to prove something to LA.

Wanting to show their LA organization what they gave up when they dealt him, three years after they’d acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him in the 2nd Round in 2018 and traded him to the Dodgers later that year, Gray said, he let his emotions get the best of him.

“I think that’s just the type of player I am,” Gray said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“And being sort of slighted, I guess you can say. Since I’ve been in pro ball, I’ve wanted to prove my former organizations wrong in that they traded a guy that is gonna go out there and work his butt off. So, unfortunately, today didn’t go my way.

“But I’m looking forward to facing the Dodgers again, facing the Reds whenever we face them, and going out there and just giving it my all and kind of just trying to put it to them.”

Gray followed up on the start vs LA with five strong against the Colorado Rockies in which he gave up just three hits and one earned run, though he did walk four batters in a 6-5 win.

Last night he got his opportunity to go up against the Reds. His manager said he thought Gray would be fine controlling his emotions this time out.

“He’s got to go out there and attack the strike zone,” Martinez said before the second of four with the Reds in Great American Ball Park. “He did a great job his last outing, he really did.”

“We continue to talk to him about pounding the strike zone, getting ahead,” the manager added. “He’s really good when he gets ahead and uses all his pitches.”

His message for Gray going in against Cincinnati? Keep doing what you’ve been doing.

“He’s done a way better job of staying in the moment, and those high-leverage situations, he needs to breathe, and just get to that next pitch,” Martinez said. “And he’s done better.

“He’s — a couple of instances where — even in his last outing — where we had some big moments, and he got out of them, but it’s all about controlling your breathing and staying in that moment, and he’s learning, he’s maturing, and he gets it.

“He’s a heck of a competitor, and he doesn’t give in, so I mean, like I said, today it’s going to be another stepping stone for him that he goes through out here. A team that puts the ball in play and goes out there and competes.”

An error by Luis García on a fairly routine grounder put a runner on with one down in the Reds’ first, and Tommy Pham followed with a long fly ball to center which went into and then out of Victor Robles’s glove as he leapt at the wall, 2-0 Reds early.

Gray kept it there, and came out for the second in a 2-1 game, then had a 5-2 lead to work with in the third.

Gray worked around a leadoff single, in a 13-pitch third, and two walks in a 22-pitch fourth which left him at 64 total, and he struck out two, and stranded a leadoff walk in a 17-pitch fifth which left him at 81 total, with seven Ks from 20 batters faced.

He added two more Ks in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning, after which he was up to 91 pitches and 9 Ks from 23 batters faced, but a long top of the seventh inning ended his outing, and the Nationals went on to win, 8-5.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 91 P, 51 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

“After the home run in the first, he settled down, and he had command of his pitches, and he threw the ball really well,” Martinez said after the win.

A sure sign of how sharp his stuff was?

Gray collected 15 swinging strikes (seven with his slider; three with his four-seamer; and five with his curve), and 15 called strikes (six each on his slider and four-seamer; and three on his curve) for a 33% CSW%.

“We thought about sending him out for the seventh inning, the inning got long, and I didn’t want to do that,” Martinez added. “I want to keep him right where he is. He wanted to go back out, and he tried to talk me into it. But I said, ‘Hey, that’s plenty, I’m not going to let you sit here for 20 minutes, and then send you back.’ But he’ll be ready in five days. Every outing, he gets more and more in-tune with what he really wants to do and how he wants to attack hitters. He does a great job between the five days of really studying the opponents, and getting ready for his outing, so kudos to him. He’s working really hard to understand how to be successful up here, and he’s doing a great job.”