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Washington Nationals’ Josiah Gray; the century mark; foul balls; and 5.0 scoreless vs Miami

Josiah Gray and his manager are happy with the starter’s outing in what ended up a 2-1 loss in extras…

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After a three-start winless streak (0-2) in which he put up a 9.60 ERA, an 8.54 FIP, and tough .288/.362/.712 line against, Josiah Gray bounced back in his last two outings before he took on the Marlins last night in Miami’s loanDepot park.

In starts against the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds, Gray, 24, put up a 1.64 ERA (3 R, 2 ER in 11 IP), a 5.23 FIP, and a .135/.273/.297 line against, holding the Rockies to one run on three hits and four walks in five innings at home, and the Reds to two runs (1 ER) on two hits and three walks in six innings in Great American Ball Park.

Both of the runs the home team scored in Cincinnati came three batters in, after a runner reached on an error and the next batter hit a two-run shot.

Gray proceeded to throw five scoreless after giving up the early runs, and the Nats rallied to beat the Reds, 8-5.

“After the home run in the first, he settled down, and he had command of his pitches, and he threw the ball really well,” Gray’s manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters after the win.

“Every outing, he gets more and more in-tune with what he really wants to do and how he wants to attack hitters,” the manager added. “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.”

In two starts against the Marlins before last night’s outing in Miami, Gray gave up seven runs in 11 23 IP (5.40 ERA), with Fish hitters putting up a .283/.327/.500 line against him, but start No. 3 against the Nationals’ NL East rivals went much better for the Nats’ starter, whose outing ended after five scoreless innings (in which he walked one and struck out six) and threw 101 overall pitches.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 101 P, 69 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

Gray generated 15 swinging strikes total (11 with his slider, 4 with his curve), and he got 19 called strikes overall (10 with his four-seamer, 7 with curve, and 1 each with slider & changeup).

Marlins’ hitters also fouled off 21P though, including 13 FBs to run Gray’s pitch count to 101 in five innings (while Marlins’ starter Sandy Alcantara, by comparison, got through five on 62).

“Josiah was — he did great,” Martinez told reporters after a 2-1 loss to the Marlins in extra innings. “I know the pitch count got up there, he got out of some high-leverage situations, and he was good for five innings, really good. Just had 100 pitches.”

“They fouled a lot of pitches,” the manager added. “We talked about that, but he threw the ball well. I said, ‘Hey, you made some good pitches. They fouled some off, but I thought you made some really good pitches. And so just — they built your pitch count up, but you hung in there, you got some big strikeouts when you needed it, but you pitched well. So next outing, you know you can hit the 100-pitch mark, now get to that sixth or seventh inning.’”

Gray said he was satisfied with the outing overall, in spite of the Nationals’ eventual loss.

“Super-satisfying,” Gray said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “They were making me work really hard early in the game, putting some good at-bats together, hitting some good pitches. It’s a part of the game. Obviously, I’d love to go longer than five innings today. But I’m glad I got my pitch count up to 100, put some zeros on the board for my team and kept us in a position to win.”

As Martinez explained it, outings like this, where Gray is pounding the zone and the opposing hitters make a lot of contact, either fouling pitches off or putting them in play, are somewhat unavoidable.

“Most of them were on fastballs, but like I said, when he’s attacking the strike zone like that, you’re going to get those kind of days where guys are just fouling balls off, but when he needed to make pitches, he made them, he made some good ones, so I was proud of him to stay in each at-bat and finish the at-bat.”