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Josiah Gray sets career high in Ks with 11 vs Phillies; gives up 2 Kyle Schwarber bombs...

Josiah Gray and Davey Martinez said they’d live with the two solo home runs Kyle Schwarber hit in a solid start by the Nationals’ right-hander...

MLB: JUL 06 Nationals at Phillies Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“I’ll break it down as nine batters he was ahead, punched out six, seven batters he fell behind, five guys got on base, home run, and a couple hits,” Davey Martinez said after Josiah Gray gave up 10 hits (one a homer), two walks, and six earned runs in 5 23 IP in Washington’s 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins last weekend in Nationals Park.

Gray threw 95 pitches in the outing, 27 in the third, when he gave up a leadoff home run, a two-out walk, and back-to-back RBI hits. He gave up another run in the fifth, on a double, a stolen base, and sac fly, and surrendered two in the sixth when he gave up four straight hits and a one-out RBI groundout.

“It wasn’t like he threw the ball awful,” Martinez said, “...but he fell behind, so and like I said, on a bunch of hitters, and that’s where they beat him up, but we’ll get him going, [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey is going to talk to him this week about a few things ... and then get him back on track.”

Going into his outing against the Philadelphia Phillies last night, manager Davey Martinez said he wanted to see the 24-year-old starter get ahead in the count and pound the zone.

“With Josiah it’s all about getting ahead of hitters,” Martinez reiterated.

“When he’s ahead of hitters, he’s done well, so he’s got to pound the strike zone, use all his pitches, but really command the strike zone.”

Gray fell behind 2-0 on Kyle Schwarber in the first at-bat of the fourth last night, after he’d thrown three scoreless on 47 pitches, but he left a changeup up in the zone and over the middle to Schwarber, who doesn’t miss many pitches these days, and the Phillies’ slugger hit it 375 feet to right for a leadoff home run and a 1-0 Phillies’ lead.

Schwarber hit a hanging 2-1 curve 399 feet to right in the sixth, connecting for his second of the game, fourth of the series (in two games), and 27th of 2022, putting the Phillies up a run, 2-1, on Gray and the Nationals.

The Nationals’ starter picked up two more Ks in the inning, for 11 total on the night, a new career-high, from 23 batters faced, and the Nats went up 3-2 in the top of the seventh to help their starter pick up a win in a solid outing outside of the at-bats against Schwarber...

Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 2 HRs, 100 P, 67 S, 1/1 GO/FO.

Overall on the night, Gray got 22 swinging strikes, (11 with his fastball, 8 with his slider, and 3 with his curve) and he got 12 called strikes as well, (7 with his fastball, one with his slider, and four with his curve).

“It honestly felt the same tonight,” Gray said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game. “Just throwing with more conviction. I kind of split the zone in half, get it to the top half of the zone. I had really good results with the fastball today, along with the other pitches. That’s obviously encouraging for the next outing, and something to build on, for sure.”

“His slider has late bite,” Martinez said, “... but his fastball — and we talk about this all the time, when he can throw his fastball around the plate, and be consistent with throwing his fastball, that makes his slider a lot better. So he did that tonight. He had 11 strikeouts, so when he pounds the strike zone like he did, and can make pitches when he needs to, he gives us good outings all the time. The key is, for him, as I said earlier, is really trying to work ahead, throwing strike one, when he does that he’s really effective.”

Getting through the outing with just two solo home runs off him by a red-hot hitter was an acceptable result for the starter and his manager.

“I’ll live with a solo shot here and there,” Gray told reporters. “As long as I’m executing my game plan, and it doesn’t knock me off my path to execution and providing for the team, I’m fine with it.”

“Yeah, I’ll live with that, but man,” Martinez said. “We’ve seen it before, and I’ve seen it a lot,” he said of Schwarber rolling like he is now, with four home runs in the first two games of the series. “When he gets going he can hit them a long way. So, he’s swinging the bat really well now.

“Like Josiah said, ‘Hey, I fell behind, and I did everything I can.’

“But I told him, I said, ‘When [Schwarber is] like that — we’ve seen it — he gets that ball up, down, away, it doesn’t matter, he puts a good swing on the ball and he can hit them a long way.”