Irvin in T-Mobile:
In two starts back after the club skipped a turn in the rotation to work on things behind the scenes, Jake Irvin, who’d struggled over his previous five turns after two strong outings out of the gate once the 2018 4th Round pick made his big league debut, returned to the form his manager saw from him in years past, back before he got hurt and he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021.
Irvin gave up a run on four hits in five innings against Miami, then held Arizona to two runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings in back-to-back starts.
“He was staying in his legs way better than I’ve seen him the whole year,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Irvin’s outing against the D-backs. “His head was in a good position behind the baseball, everything was clean. It was awesome. This is the Jake Irvin that I saw a couple years ago in Spring Training ... we know that he will go through a little lull after surgery, but I saw that in Spring Training just for a couple innings that he pitches, but it was awesome to see that.”
“We got to continue to build him up,” Martinez added, “get him to think that that’s who he is and keep working with him, and I can’t say enough about what [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey has done with him, because we sat him down, he missed a start, and this is the stuff that we worked on, and it was awesome to see him come out and execute what we talked about.”
The early returns on the post-break appearances have been positive.
“His direction is really good,” Martinez said before Irvin faced the Mariners in Seattle’s T-Mobile Park last night.
“Staying in his legs a lot better, we saw the velo tick up a little bit, and attacking the strike zone. That’s been the key. The ten days that we gave him off, he worked on some things with Hickey, and Hickey got him straightened out a little bit, about not being so rotational on his hip, staying on his legs, it’s given him a little bit more power in his lower half, so, and throwing better strikes, more consistent strikes. And hopefully he goes out there again today and repeats that and gives us a good outing.”
Given a 1-0 lead to work with before he took the mound, Irvin retired the first two batters he faced, but Ty France kept the bottom of the inning alive with a two-out single to center, and Teoscar Hernández followed with a two-run shot to right on a 1-0 sinker up in the zone and a bit off the middle of the plate, 2-1 after one.
Irvin retired the Mariners’ hitters in order in the second and third, but gave leadoff and one-out singles by France and Cal Raleigh, respectively, in the home-half of the fourth.
France advanced to third on Raleigh’s knock, and a sac fly by Eugenio Suárez added to the lead, 3-1 after four. A 15-pitch frame left Irvin at 62 total.
Irvin retired the Mariners in order again in the fifth, and came out for the sixth at 73 pitches and gave up a leadoff walk to Julio Rodríguez, but he got a double play grounder (6-4-3) in the next AB, and a two-out walk pushed him up to 87 pitches, but his manager left him in to face France again, and the first baseman lined one off his counterpart’s glove, sending the runner around to third. That was it for Irvin, after 93 pitches.
Jake Irvin’s Line: 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 61 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
“[He] gave us a good outing. He stayed in there and gave us enough to keep us close,” Irvin’s manager said after an extra innings win.
• “Little League pickoff run.” - Bob Carpenter: Jeimer Candelario singled off the Mariners’ starter Bryan Woo with two outs in the opening frame of last night’s game, then with Joey Meneses at the plate, Woo threw a pickoff throw by first base, and into foul territory in right field, and far enough that Candelario took second, then third, and he was waved around by third base coach Gary DiSarcina, scoring standing up, well ahead of the throw home, 1-0.
• Lane Thomas didn’t have too many singles to the opposite field this season before sending a one-out hit grounder through the right side in the top of the fifth [ed. note - “According to the MASN broadcast of last night’s game, it was his fourth single to right in 2023.”]
One out after his hit, Thomas scored on Jeimer Candelario’s 25th double of the year, a line drive to left-center field which Mariners’ outfielder Jarred Kelenic got his glove on, sprinting to the gap and making a diving attempt, but didn’t catch, 3-2.
Mason Thompson took over for the Nationals with runners on first and third and two out in the sixth, and got a groundout to short to end the threat, with some help from a charging CJ Abrams, who made the play and throw to beat Eugenio Suárez to the bag.
Gabe Speier hit CJ Abrams to start the top of the seventh, and he was replaced on the hill by Matt Brash, who walked Derek Hill to put two on, and Lane Thomas to load them up for Luis García, whose fly to center brought Abrams in, 3-3. Two outs later, however, the Nats stranded two runners.
Thompson couldn’t find the plate when he came back out for the Mariners’ seventh. Jarred Kelenic walked to start the inning, and went first-to-third on a single by Mike Ford. Martinez went to the ‘pen again for Kyle Finnegan at that point, and he got a grounder to short, with Ildemaro Vargas in the game for CJ Abrams, and the Nats got the out at second, and threw home, where Kelenic was initially called out before a replay challenge and a reversal, 4-3. It was almost a brilliant 6-4-2. Nice try either way. Also, what’s up with Abrams. He got hit with the pitch, then slid into the bag at second base awkwardly the inning before, will have to see what Davey Martinez says in his post game. A 5-4-3 in the next AB ended the inning.
[ed. note - “We missed the ‘spike to the hand’ on the play MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted in a tweet on Abrams leaving the game. Post game comments below as well...”]:
Ildemaro Vargas now playing SS in place of CJ Abrams, who was both hit by a pitch on the elbow and then appeared to get spiked on his left hand on his subsequent stolen base.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 28, 2023
CJ Abrams, meanwhile, departed after getting hit in the right elbow with a pitch for the second time this week. He was getting postgame treatment, they'll see how he's feeling in the morning.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 28, 2023
Seattle’s closer, Paul Sewald, came on in the eighth, and promptly served up a game-tying home run to right on a 1-1 slider low in the zone Keibert Ruiz went down for and hit to right field, 356 ft., to tie things up at 4-4. No. 9 for Ruiz.
Finnegan retired the Mariners in order in the bottom of the eighth. Six outs on 15 pitches.
Hunter Harvey stranded a one-out double in the ninth to send it to extras.
After the Nationals left their free runner on in the top of the 10th, the Mariners’ leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford got an IBB, and Julio Rodríguez walked (on a pitch timer violation/ball four), so the bases were loaded for Ty France, who popped out behind home for out No. 1, and then it was Teoscar Hernández, who K’d for out No. 2, before Cal Raleigh’s check-swing grounder ended the threat.
Ildemaro Vargas walked with one out in the top of the 11th, and one out later, with Vargas at second, and free runner Keibert Ruiz at third, Lane Thomas doubled off former Nats’ righty Trevor Gott, driving in two runs, 6-4, then Luis García singled to bring Thomas in, 7-4 at the end of the inning.
live— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 28, 2023
LANE FOR THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/FQbt3qdZRK
Weems went back out too, and got a fly to right and back-to-back backwards Ks for the final three outs of the game, 7-4 final.
“This team is relentless, they don’t give up,” Davey Martinez said after the win.
“They stay focused, they stay in the game,” he added, “... and we come out victorious at the end which was awesome. Lane with a big hit to put us ahead, and then Luis comes up with another hit.”
Then the effort by Weems in the 10th and then in the 11th? Martinez loved it.
“What a performance he did. He was awesome. Talked to him after the one inning, he said he felt fine, he wanted to go back out. And I said, ‘Alright, we’ll keep an eye on you, but go ahead and get that first out.’ And, man, he did great.”
[Player’s Name] At The Plate:
Dominic Smith hit one home run over his first 60 games and 250 plate appearances this season, with a .262/.344/.299 line over that stretch in his first year in D.C. after signing a 1-year, $2M deal with the Nationals this winter.
Smith, who homered in last night’s series opener in Seattle, has hit two homers in his last 14 games, though he was just 13 for 53 (.245/.273/.434) in those games.
“He’s really trying really hard to stay back, stay behind the ball, use his legs a lot better,” manager Davey Martinez said of Smith homering twice in the last two weeks.
“We see it. He hit a couple balls in San Diego to the warning track, a couple the other way, one out to center field, it’s coming. And I tell him, ‘The biggest thing for you is just to keep your legs underneath you and try to drive the ball in the middle of the field.’ That’s all he tried to do on that one swing, and he hit it, it was a line drive homer, which was awesome.”
Also on a nice run in recent weeks? CJ Abrams. In his last 10 games going into the second of three with the Mariners, the 22-year-old shortstop was 12-for-36 (.343/.378/.543), with 4 doubles, a homer, a walk, and six runs scored, taking him from a .217/.262/.368 line on the year up to .235/.279/.393 before the start of play on Tuesday. What’s he been going right?
“Getting the ball in the strike zone, one, two, is just not trying to do too much,” Martinez told reporters in T-Mobile Park.
“Just staying in the middle of the field, trying to work good counts, not chasing. When he doesn’t chase, he hits the ball really hard. When he stays on top of the baseball, he hits the ball really, really hard. We tell him all the time, we talk about him just trying to hit hard line drives. His balls go up in the air when he does that, and not get underneath the ball. So he does well when he does that. The big thing for him is to get the ball in the strike zone.”