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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats beat Giants, 5-3 in D.C.; Jake Irvin impresses; Hunter Harvey talk...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals and Giants’ series opener in D.C.

Irvin, Sweat, and More:

Coming off a few solid outings, which followed a skipped turn in the rotation, and coming out of the All-Star Break, rookie starter Jake Irvin struggled with his command, threw a lot of pitches in three innings (79), and was out early in what ended up a 9-6 loss to the Cardinals last week in St. Louis.

“[Irvin] had almost 80 pitches in three innings,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said of his decision-making in lifting his starter relatively early, “… and for me he’s part of our big future ahead of us, and I thought that was good enough for him.”

The sixth-year skipper said the first-year starter struggled with sweat and getting a grip on his curve in the abbreviated outing.

“Not to make excuses for him, because he’s got to get through it,” Martinez said, “… but we saw him kind of wiping all the time, trying to wipe, wipe. I think he went out there with a little rag that he talked to the umpire and they allowed him to use a rag down there, but we got to get him through those moments, because he’s got good stuff, but like I said, when you’re throwing almost 25-27 pitches an inning for three innings, that’s a lot.”

Martinez said he and his staff would talk to Irvin about wearing a sleeve or doing something to counter all of the moisture, but overall, he said the message was for Irvin to put the start behind him and move on to his next turn in the rotation.

“I said, ‘Hey, be ready, you’ll be back out there in five days,’ and he’s been pitching well. I don’t want him to be discouraged by today.

“We had another rain delay for him and he had to sit and wait, but he’s got to get ready to go back out there in five days.”

Irvin summed up his struggles in St. Louis succinctly.

“A lack of execution led to some of those situations where guys got deeper into counts,” he said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

Irvin actually did execute on a 2-1 fastball (at 95.4 MPH) outside to J.D. Davis in a two-out at-bat in last night’s series opener with San Francisco in the nation’s capital, but the Giants’ 3-hole hitter sent it out the other way, 384 ft into the bullpen in right field for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead for the visiting club early in Nationals Park.

Irvin had a 2-1 lead to work with when he came out for the second and retired the Giants in order in a 15-pitch frame, and it was 3-1 when he returned to the mound in the third and he got two outs, but gave up a single by LaMonte Wade, Jr., and a towering, third-deck homer by Joc Pederson, who tied it up with his 9th of the year, a 429 ft monster shot, 3-3.

A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Irvin at 61 pitches overall, and he retired the Giants in order in the fifth as well, in a 14-pitch frame which [checks math] left him at 75 total.

Irvin struck out the side in the sixth, all looking, for 10-straight outs after the home run by Pederson in the 3rd. His 18-pitch frame got him up to 93 on the night.

Martinez sent Irvin back out for the top of the seventh, where his streak of retired batters ended with a leadoff single by Michael Conforto, who took third on a two-out hit to left by Blake Sabo on Irvin’s 111th and final pitch...

Jake Irvin’s Line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 2 HRs, 111 P, 75 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

“Jake set the tone today, so we followed his lead,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco, after what ended up a 5-3 win.

“We scored runs. He was really good. He faced 25 batters. He fell behind six of them. ...

“That was awesome. He used his changeup. He threw 18-20 changeups. They started looking for his curveball. He went to his changeup and it was very effective and he threw the ball well.”

“It was a growth moment, for sure, today with him,” Martinez added at another point.


• Lane Thomas came out swinging in the bottom of the first, taking a first-pitch fastball from Giants’ lefty Alex Wood 413 ft to the left of center field for a game-tying, one-out home run, his 16th of the season, one shy of his previous season-high. Thomas hit 17 over 146 games and 548 plate appearances last year. He hit No. 16 this year in his 95th game and 413th PA.

• Keibert Ruiz fell behind 0-2 when he stepped in with runners on first and second and no one out after back-to-back walks by Jeimer Candelario and Joey Meneses following the game-tying home run by Thomas. Wood threw the Nats’ catcher a decent changeup, low, out of the zone, but Ruiz went down to get it and lined it to left for an RBI single, 2-1 Nats.

• Wood got the first two outs of the Nats’ second on just seven pitches, but he fell behind 1-0 to CJ Abrams in the next at-bat, and left a fastball up in the zone and over the middle of the plate which Abrams hit 414 ft to right for his 9th of the season and a 3-1 Nationals.

• Stone Garrett took a 2-1 slider to the foot and took his base to start the Nationals’ half of the fourth, and he scored from first when Michael Chavis hit an 0-1 changeup low and away to left field for an RBI double which put the Nationals back on top, 4-3, an inning after the Giants rallied to tie it up. Luis García moved Chavis over to third with a groundout to the right side of the infield for out No. 1. Chavis got back-picked off third for out No. 2, and Alex Call popped up to end the inning.

• CJ Abrams singled to start the Nationals’ half of the fifth, ending Alex Wood’s night, and the speedy shortstop in the nation’s capital took off right away with new pitcher Ryan Walker on the hill, trying to extend a streak of 15-straight successful stolen base attempts which stretched back to May 3rd.

Abrams was initially called out on the play, with the Giants’ catcher Patrick Bailey (41% CS% before tonight) throwing it right to the corner of the bag where Brett Wisely applied the tag a second too late, upon review. Abrams was ruled safe, and he scored one out later when a Joey Meneses’ liner (103.1 off the bat) brought him in, 5-3.


Jordan Weems took over for Jake Irvin with two on and two out in the Giants’ seventh and promptly walked the first batter he faced, Wilmer Flores, loading them up in front of Casey Schmitt, who K’d swining at a 96 MPH, 1-2 fastball for out No. 3. Still 5-3 Nationals.

Jose A. Ferrer got the top of the eighth, and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 frame.

Kyle Finnegan got the save opportunity in the top of the ninth, and the right-hander tossed a drama-free, 1-2-3 frame. Ballgame. Final Score: 5-3 Nationals.

BACK PAGE - Next Step For Hunter:

Given his injury history, which includes Tommy John surgery in 2016, and oblique and lat strains in 2021, the Nationals were very careful with Hunter Harvey, 28, when the closer in D.C. experienced a dip in velocity in his outing against the St. Louis Cardinals on the last road trip, and acknowledged discomfort, so the club sent him back to Washington D.C. for an MRI on his right elbow, which revealed a mild right elbow strain. Harvey went on the IL, but his manager said the diagnosis was a relatively good one, considering concerns they had initially.

“Especially with his history, and the way he was feeling, I was very concerned,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters last week.

MLB: JUN 21 Cardinals at Nationals Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“It’s just a mild strain of his right elbow. Best-case scenario for us. We’re going to shut him down for ten days, and then resume his throwing. But we’ll just let it calm down a little bit and build some strength up, and get him back as soon as we possibly can.”

In a breakout season for Harvey, he has put up a 3.12 ERA, a 3.63 FIP, 12 walks (2.68 BB/9), 45 Ks (10.04 K/9), and a .196/.258/.336 line against in 39 games and 40 1⁄3 IP, earning nine saves in 14 opportunities, so the injury issue now is disappointing, but he’s already hard at work to try to get back as soon as possible.

Harvey told reporters on Friday the injury history above is actually beneficial in one way, to allow him to know the difference between normal soreness and something which needs to be addressed.

“You kind of know the difference between normal soreness and stuff you don’t want to have,” he explained, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“It’s something we jumped on early, which is good because I didn’t jump on it early last year and it cost me a couple months. So these few weeks should be good.”

The next step, his manager explained on Friday night, is to strengthen the arm and rest up for now.

MLB: MAY 21 Tigers at Nationals Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“He’s just going to rehab, do some strengthening stuff, but I talked to him as well,” Martinez said. “He says he feels a lot better, which is great. Knowing his history, we want to make sure that when he comes back he’s full go, but it’s good that he said he feels a lot better.”

“I’m sure they were concerned,” Harvey told reporters, with his history, “but I kind of told them I didn’t think it was anything bad, just based on the feeling.

“When I was having all this stuff before I had TJ back in 2016, now that was bad, now that’s the stuff that worried me, those feelings.

“This was just something out of the ordinary that I knew could lead to something bad, and we just got on it early.”

While the club is without its closer now, and the bullpen has been an issue in recent losses, Harvey said he thought it there is an opportunity for someone to step up in his absence.

“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of these guys to get innings, and get innings in big moments. It’s time for somebody to step up and, hopefully, just run with it.”