clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats beat Royals with another big 6th; 4-2 final

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ second straight win over the Royals in Kansas City, MO.

FRONT PAGE - Gray vs the Royals:

Josiah Gray threw 88 pitches total in five innings against Detroit’s Tigers last week in the nation’s capital, walking six batters but giving up just three hits and one run.

It was not an ideal outing, obviously, [points to the walks] but he wrapped it up with a quick, 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, which his manager said was a good sign in the end, after an erratic first four frames.

“He wasn’t very sharp,” Davey Martinez told reporters following the club’s 6-4 win over the Tigers. “His cutter wasn’t as good as it was. What I did like about him: He comes out in that fifth inning, and he was a lot better. His mechanics were better, he was staying closed, his head was in a good position, and he threw the ball — velo was up in that inning. But for me, he’s been pitching well, six, seven [innings], today was a shorter day for him, I wanted to get him out of there.

“He had five innings, 87-88 pitches, and I told [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, ‘That’s enough.’

“This will be his day where we shorten it up a little bit for him, but he battled.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

“The six walks definitely is a bummer,” Gray acknowledged in his own post game scrum, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “And I felt really good pregame, in the bullpen, before the game. Then I got out there and things just didn’t go the way I wanted to.”

“It wasn’t what I wanted to do today, but I made the big pitch and only gave up one today,” he added.

The 25-year-old starter finished that start with a 2.65 ERA, a 4.35 FIP, 28 walks, 47 Ks, and a .241/.331/.361 line against in 10 outings and 57 23 IP on the season. His ERA was up to 2.76 after he gave up a leadoff walk which came in to score from third on a two-out wild pitch in the home-half of the first inning Saturday afternoon in Kauffman Stadium.

Gray left a slider up inside for Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez with two out in the third, and the veteran hit it 382 feet to left for a solo shot and a 2-0 lead for the home team.

Another leadoff walk in the fourth, this one to MJ Melendez, caused trouble again, with the next batter up, Royals’ DH Michael Massey, singling to right field to send the runner to third with no one out. Gray struck Maikel Garcia out with a 95 MPH 0-2 fastball for out No. 1, and right fielder Drew Waters with a low 2-2 slider for out No. 2, and he got ahead 0-2 on second baseman Nicky Lopez, then walked him, before getting a fly to center from left fielder Nick Pratto to end the bases-loaded threat.

The 34-pitch frame ended his outing though, after just four innings...

Josiah Gray’s Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 91 P, 57 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Gray did generate 14 swinging strikes, spread out over four pitches, but he got nine called strikes, and the Royals’ hitters fouled off 22 of his 91 pitches to knock the starter out a little earlier than usual...

“Today, he did a great job keeping us at 2-0,” Martinez said after what ended up a 4-2 win over the Royals, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“Things could’ve imploded there for us, but he did a great job of getting the outs we needed.”

“I think today was a good test, a scrappy lineup,” Gray told reporters in his own post game scrum.

“I think I had a few eight-plus pitch at-bats, so that probably knocked me out a little sooner than I wanted. But I thought the stuff was better than my last outing.”


• Joey Meneses and Jeimer Candelario took back-to-back, two-out walks from Royals’ starter Brady Singer in the top of the first inning this afternoon, but Corey Dickerson, one hit shy of 1,000 for his career, and playing in his 1,047th game in the majors, lined out to left field. The narrative was really building there, très décevant...

“When he collects hit No. 1,000,” the club mentioned in their pregame notes, [Dickerson] will become the 12th player in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.) to record his 1,000th hit in a Nationals uniform, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“The last to do it,” the Nats added, “was Brian Dozier in 2019.”

• Trailing 2-0 in the 4th inning, the Nationals got a leadoff double from Candelario, who took third base one out later, on a groundout by Keibert Ruiz, after Dickerson went down swinging unproductively, but Candy was stranded there (at third base), (after a two-out walk by Dom Smith), when Alex Call struck out too, leaving Washington 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and five left on base for the day.

Mr. 1,000: About that narrative ... Jeimer Candelario singled to start the Nationals’ half of the sixth, and he scored in the next at-bat, when Corey Dickerson doubled to center for hit No. 1,000 in his big league career, 2-1 Royals. Congrats, Corey. That was it for KC’s starter...

• Dickerson scored from second on an RBI single by Keibert Ruiz off lefty Josh Taylor, 2-2. 1 for 9 w/ RISP. Dom Smith singled in the at-bat that followed, Alex Call walked, which gave CJ Abrams a bases-loaded, 0-out opportunity, and he cashed it in with a two-run double to center field on a 2-2 fastball from the lefty reliever, 4-2 Nationals. They ended up stranding two in scoring position though, 2 for 13 w/ RISP. But a big inning...

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the game he really liked Abrams’ approach in that at-bat (again, via MASN’s Mark Zuckerman):

“Laying off tough pitches, that was the key there: He laid off some sliders. And getting ready in time, that was huge. He got his foot down, saw the ball up a little bit and put a nice swing on it.”

Martinez’s club ended the game 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and 10 left on base, but they got the win in the end.

“They’re playing hard right now,” he said, “and they’re playing with a lot of passion, which I love, so the energy has been good, they’re not giving up, and like I said the at-bats started getting better there from the sixth inning on and we were able to score some more runs.”

It was the second win in a row in which a big sixth was the difference after an eight-run sixth in the series opener.

“I would love our offense to start [scoring] runs early in the game,” Martinez joked, “... but yeah, you start wearing pitchers down a little bit, all of a sudden the third time through the order is key. We’ve been really good at it, so we’ve got to continue to do that, but like I said, we got to come out early and try to score first and try to put [up] some runs early in the game.”


Mason Thompson gave the Nationals two scoreless in relief after taking over for Josiah Gray in the fifth.

Carl Edwards, Kr. got the seventh, with the Nats up 4-2, and he put two on before he struck out Salvador Perez for a scoreless frame.

Hunter Harvey worked around a walk for a scoreless eighth.

Kyle Finnegan got the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a one-out single, but picked up Ks in the next two at-bats to end the game. Final Score: 4-2 Nationals.

BACK PAGE - Luis García’s Six-hit Game:

“Luis García,” the club noted before the second of three in Kansas City, MO, “... matched a Nationals’ record (2005-pres.) with six hits on Friday night, going 6 for 6 with two doubles, two RBI[s], and three runs scored,” in a big game for the 23-year-old infielder.

“Combined with his two hits on May 25 vs. San Diego, García has hit safely in eight of his last nine at bats,” the Nats added.

“García (23 years, 10 days) became the second-youngest player in Major League history to record six hits in a 9.0-inning game, behind San Francisco’s Jesús Alou (22 years, 108 days) who did so on July 10, 1964 at Chicago (NL).”

The fact five of García’s six hits were opposite field knocks really stood out for his manager, Davey Martinez, as a sign of the improvement he’s seen from the youngster this season.

“That’s something that he’s been really working on, is keeping his legs underneath him,” the sixth-year skipper said, “... and staying on the ball and driving the ball the other way, and he did that tonight.”

The big night for García, in which he matched his hit total from the previous seven games, left him with a .288/.330/.394 line, seven doubles, a triple, three home runs, 12 walks, and 21 Ks in 44 games and 186 plate appearances on the year.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez talked before the second game of three in Kansas City about García’s patience and improved pitch selection getting him better pitches to hit.

García’s Zone Swing% (Swings at pitches inside the zone / pitches inside the zone) is up this season, 75.9% (up from 67.6% in 2022), his Zone Contact% is up (87.7% from 80.5%), and his Chase% is down significantly (25.1% this year, from 40.8% in ‘22).

“I think that he’s getting better pitches to hit because he’s creating better situations for him to hit,” Martinez explained. “Yeah, and the biggest thing for me is he’s understanding how to use his legs a lot better, the swings that he has, he’s hitting the ball hard, he’s putting the ball in play a little bit more, so, and that’s the key to all hitters for me, is like hey, when you get a pitch to hit, or a pitch to drive, it’s to put it in play, try to barrel it up and put it in play right away, instead of going to two strikes and having to fight and try to get the ball in the zone then. Then it’s tough, but he’s doing a way better job of getting back early and using his legs.”

So forcing pitchers to throw strikes and making contact at a higher rate when they do is all part of the plan, and what they’re reiterating with him each day?

“We’re trying to get him to understand that getting the ball up in the zone for him is a good thing,” Martinez continued, “... and staying back and not trying to pull everything, staying in the middle of the field. Yesterday, he did a great job of just staying on the ball, trying to stay in the middle of the field, got a bunch of hits to left field, but he doesn’t have to pull the ball all the time.

“And if he gets ready, he can recognize pitches a lot earlier and be able to do that.”