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Washington Nationals news & notes: Jake Irvin responds to show of confidence from manager; Nats lose to Phillies...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ loss to the Phillies in D.C.

Eighteen pitches into the sixth, with the bases loaded and two out, rookie starter Jake Irvin was up to 91 pitches overall. Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez walked out to the mound, but didn’t signal to the bullpen. Instead he told the 26-year-old pitcher he’d get the final out, patted him on the side, and walked back to the dugout, leaving Irvin in to face left-handed swinging outfielder Jake Cave (even though Martinez had lefty Miguel A. Ferrer warming in the bullpen).

“I just went out there and I said, ‘I’m just here to give you a breather. I think you can get this guy out,’” Martinez told reporters after Irvin got out of the inning with a 2-0 lead, only for an 11-run barrage against the bullpen to decide the middle game of the three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C.

“He was pumped up that I let him stay in there,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“And I said, ‘You got this. Just make your pitches. We’re gonna get out of it.’ He did, and he did really well.”

Irvin threw a curve low and away for a called first strike, got strike No. 2 on a curve inside Cave fouled off, then went upstairs, going from 79.4 to 82.5 and up to 94.1 with a fastball high the Philly hitter chased out of the zone for strike and out No. 3.

“As soon as you see him walking up the steps, it’s kind of the thought going through your head like ‘I want this moment,’” Irvin said. “I know that our bullpen has been taxed a little bit. That’s the positive of winning games is that the back end of that bullpen needs a little help. So I want to get as many outs as possible and that one right there’s one he asked for.”

Irvin got it for his manager, and rewarded the confidence the sixth-year skipper showed in him.

“He came out and gave me a big hug and dropped a couple words,” Martinez shared. “But he was excited I gave him an opportunity. And I told him that he earned that. So great job.”

The outing, in which Irvin recorded 14 swinging and 19 called strikes, left the Nats’ 2018 4th Round pick with a 4.47 ERA, a 5.30 FIP, 38 walks (3.54 BB/9), and 81 Ks (7.54 K/9) in 19 starts and 96 23 IP since he made his MLB debut back on May 3rd.

“It’s a big boost of confidence for me knowing that he’s got my back and wants me in that situation,” Irvin said of getting to try for the final out. “And like I said, as a competitor, you just want the ball there.”

Martinez was happy to see the young starter react like he did to the show of confidence and the challenge from his manager.

“Just let him take a deep breath,” he said of the breather he gave Irvin. “And understand that, hey, that was his game. Like I said, it’s just another growth moment for one of our young starters. And he got through it really well.”

“Jake was phenomenal. He really was. He gave us six innings. He emptied out the tank there in the sixth and he was at 94 pitches. Great. He pitched really well.”

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