FRONT PAGE - Gray in Oracle:
Josiah Gray gave up a solo home run in the third inning of his outing in Phoenix, AZ, then committed a throwing error in the fourth which ultimately led to two more runs scoring on the Nationals’ 25-year-old starter, who hadn’t given up a home run in 19 innings before the blast, and had given up two runs or fewer in five straight starts which followed a rough (5 ER) outing in his 2020 debut.
“He was good,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after a 3-1 loss to the D-Backs in which Gray went five innings on 92 pitches.
“He had one hiccup in the fourth inning, threw a lot of pitches, came back out in the fifth and settled down and got three outs for us, but by that time he had 92 pitches, so I thought was good enough for him today. Fourth inning, that play back at him, that set the tone for a big inning right there.”
“It was an okay outing,” Gray said when asked to assess his own start, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the game. “I’ve just got to make one, two more pitches there in the fourth. I’ve got to make the play. But it was okay. I kept the team in the game for a decent bit of it.
“I’ve got to get better, but I thought it was alright.”
Looking to bounce back from an “okay” outing, Gray took the mound in Oracle Park to take on the Giants in the series finale in San Francisco yesterday, and the righty retired the side in order in an eight-pitch first, before coming back out with a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second and working around a one-out walk in a 14-pitch frame.
It was 8-0 in the Nationals’ favor when Gray came out for the bottom of the third, and gave up a leadoff double by Casey Schmitt, who moved up on a groundout, then scored on one to make it an 8-1 game. Back-to-back, two-out walks extended the inning as the starter did labour a bit, but a fly to left-center ended a 21-pitch inning.
Josiah Gray, Wicked 85mph Slider...and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/c1pS711R1M— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 10, 2023
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Gray at 62 total, but he gave up a leadoff double to left-center by Joc Pederson in the bottom of the sixth, and a single by J.D. Davis followed, before a two-out RBI single by Blake Sabol made it a 10-2 game. Gray’s 16-pitch frame left him at 78 total on the day.
Gray worked around a single and a walk in the bottom of the seventh, a 15-pitch frame that left him at 92 overall.
Josiah Gray’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 92 P, 57 S, 12/3 GO/FO.
Gray generated just seven swinging strikes on the day, but he did get 15 called strikes, five on both his cutter and curve, and five between his slider and curve. He earned the win in a game which ended 11-6 in the Nats’ favor.
“Efficiency was the key for him going that deep,” Gray’s manager said after the Nationals took 2 of 3 from the Giants. “He kept it down to 92 pitches or something like that. He did really well. I’m proud of him.
“He went out there, he walked a couple guys, got right back in the zone, but kept us in the ballgame.”
Martinez was impressed with the way Gray remained focused pitching with a big lead early.
“In those situations, I try to tell him: ‘I know we scored a lot of runs. It’s easy to ease up,” he said.
“You’ve got to go out there and act like you’re up 1-0, and you’ve got to make your pitches.’ He did that very well.”
• Alex Call battled Sean Manaea for nine pitches before taking a 92.9 MPH fastball inside for ball four and a one-out walk in the second inning, which was his team-leading 17th free pass in 139 plate appearances this season.
Call stole second on the Giants’ lefty and catcher Joey Bart, and he scored on an RBI single to left-center by Dom Smith, 1-0 Nationals.
Stone Garrett singled after Smith’s liner, and one out later Riley Adams hit a 1-2 slider out to left field, 413 ft. out, for a 3-run blast and a 4-0 lead. No. 1 of 2023 for the backup backstop in D.C.
Travis Barker’s former neighbor just hit a three-run homer pic.twitter.com/BxnaRXfygw— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 10, 2023
• Garrett got a bases-loaded, 2-out opportunity in the third, after a one-out walk by Joey Meneses, an ROE on Jeimer Candelario’s grounder to third, and a two-out walk by Dom Smith, as the Nationals looked to add to their lead, and he got up 1-0 and drove a two-run single to right field for a 6-0 lead. 2 for 2 with two singles.
Ildemaro Vargas stepped in next, and hit a fly to center Giants’ center fielder Austin Slater hustled and dove for but did not catch, 8-0. That was it for Manaea...
“We had good at-bats all day,” Davey Martinez said after the win. “Riley Adams doesn’t play a whole lot, but a big home run right there to put us on the board.
“It was a good day. A good way to end the road trip and get back home with a day off.”
Luis García’s streak of four-straight multi-hit games ended in Tuesday night’s loss, but he did collect one hit, for a five-game hit streak, over which he was 11 for 23 (.478/.500/.696) with a pair of doubles, a home run, and a walk in that stretch.
“He’s been really good,” Davey Martinez said of Garciá’s recent run before the finale with the Giants.
“He’s been working good at-bats. He’s taking a lot of close pitches, sometimes to his favor, sometimes not, but we’d rather him do that than just go ahead and swing.
“So he’s been doing well.”
García went 0 for 4 with a walk through eight, striking out twice to bring an end to his streak.
Lane Thomas went 3 for 5 in the series opener in Oracle Park, and 1 for 5 with 3 Ks in the second game of the three-game set, extending a hit streak to seven straight games in the process, over which he was 10 for 28 (.357/.379/.643), with a triple, two home runs, and a walk.
Thomas extended his streak with a line drive single in the top of the fourth inning, 1 for 3, and he scored on an RBI single by Joey Meneses, 9-1, and then he homered on an 0-1, 78 MPH sweeper from reliever Tristan Beck, hitting it 392 ft. to left field to make it 10-1 with home run No. 4 of 2023.
Thaddeus Ward gave up a leadoff walk and a 2-run home run to the first two batters in the Giants’ half of the eighth, after taking over on the mound for Josiah Gray, 10-4. He did get three straight outs after the rough start to his inning.
Stone Garrett walked with two out in the top of the ninth and scored on a two-out double by Ildemaro Vargas, 11-4 Nats.
Erasmo Ramírez gave up a leadoff single and one-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, with Casey Schmitt singling and scoring on LaMonte Wade, Jr.’s 7th HR of 2023, 11-6.
BACK PAGE - Abrams’ Throwing Es:
CJ Abrams spiked the ball on the first of the two 6-3 DPs he turned in Monday’s series opener in San Francisco’s Oracle Park, but his aim was true and footwork better on the second one.
In all, Abrams and the Nats’ infield turned four double plays in a 5-1 win over the Giants.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez, in his pregame presser before the second of three in the Giants’ home, talked about the difference between Abrams’ two throws on the 6-3s and the defense overall from his middle infield in the opener.
“The first one was more his footwork,” he said of Abrams’ spiked throw, which first baseman Dominic Smith picked cleanly.
“He hit the base with his wrong foot, and threw the ball straight into the ground. The second one he got his feet underneath him, you know, and really came across the base, and when you use your legs it’s so much better when you throw, so the importance of him using his legs on every throw is what we’re trying to teach him. The fact of the matter is between him and Luis García, the way they’re turning double plays right now is really helping us a lot, and I know we turned four yesterday. They’ve been turning them, they’ve been very good, and some of the things that we talk about is just the routine double plays have to be routine double plays, and they’ve been really good at it.”
Martinez talked after the club’s 4-1 loss in the second game of the series about the shortstop’s throwing issues after he had a couple throws go awry and was charged with one error (his 8th early this season, and his 5th throwing error).
His manager said it’s something the club’s infield coaches would address with the 22-year-old shortstop.
“He’s got to get in his legs, got to use his lower half a little bit better, that will help the ball carry a little bit better,” Martinez explained. “[It’s] something I know Gary [DiSarcina] and Ricky [Gutierrez] will talk to him about and he’ll continue to work on it, but he’s got to get in his legs.”
Abrams got a day off in Wednesday’s series finale, but his manager was clear it was planned and not punitive.
“It was a planned day off for him. Looking at the schedule, it gives us an opportunity to give him two days off,” Martinez explained.
“He’s really been playing well. For me, this is just an opportunity to get him off his feet. As I always say, if we need him for today’s game, he’s definitely going to be in there.
“But if he gets half of today, or all of today, and then tomorrow, and then he’ll be fresh to go on Friday.”