Josiah Gray had a stellar start by the results, working into the sixth inning and allowing just a run, but Orioles’ Dean Kremer outmatched him in a Tuesday night pitching duel. Both sides collected five hits but the O’s beat the Nationals, 1-0 as they got the only hit with a runner in scoring position.
The one run came on an Austin Hays RBI single in the fourth. Aside from that, Gray let up just four hits on the night though he did walk four batters, while striking out three. He got defensive help from his catcher, Keibert Ruiz, who threw out two baserunners in the game. Gray worked himself out of a huge jam in the fifth inning as his pitch count was mounting.
However, the Nats’ phenomenal day on the mound was mooted by their goose egg offensively. Kremer went 6 2/3 allowing four hits and no walks while the O’s bullpen was identically flawless.
Washington had an expected batting average of .257 while the O’s had an xBA of just .197. The five Nats with hits were Dominic Smith, Stone Garrett, CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, and Jeimer Candelario. The Nats had a golden opportunity in the third inning with Abrams on third and Victor Robles on second base after a costly throwing error by the Orioles with no outs. Kremer struck out three straight Nats with mostly pitches out of the zone. He compiled 15 “swing and miss” strikes in the game of which eight were clearly far out of the strike zone. A few of the Nats were fishing, and Kremer wisely baited the hook.
If you go strictly by the record, the Nationals are struggling at 5-12 overall, as MASN notes, but five of their seven losses have all come by one run, with the other two by just two runs. There is also a pattern there that the 0-4 Gray has received a grand total of just one run of offensive support by his teammates this season.
There was certainly a lot of questioning of manager Dave Martinez who brought out Gray in the sixth inning with a pitch count of 89, and he walked the only batter he would face in the inning in a nine pitch battle. But this all came after Gray struggled with his command and long counts in the fifth inning in a 1-0 game. As it turned out, Thompson relieved Gray and still had to get three outs in that sixth inning, and he stranded the inherited runner.
“Towards the end there, he started getting the ball up a little bit,” Martinez said. “The sixth inning, we were just going to go batter-by-batter with him, and see where he goes. He started getting the ball up a little bit. He had a long at-bat against Santander. I thought that was the right time to take him out.”— Martinez on his decision to bring Gray out for the sixth inning
The two sides prepare for tomorrow’s series finale in the quick two-game set. The Orioles have not announced a starter for this game.
Wednesday @ 7:05 p.m. ET: RHP MacKenzie Gore vs. TBD