Washington Nationals news & notes: Jake Irvin and Nats beat Braves, 2-1; Running game + more…


Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Braves last night…

IRVIN VS ATL – ROUND 2:

Jake Irvin struck out 10 in six scoreless innings in Atlanta during the last road trip, without walking a batter in the 90-pitch outing against the Braves in Truist Park.

“Just a good, steady mix, and throwing the four-seamer in zone, at the top of the zone,” Irvin said of his success in the outing.

“That was kind of a focus for us this week. Executed pretty well and [it] leads to good things.”

“Outstanding,” manager Davey Martinez said in assessing Irvin’s outing. “The kid was good. Really good. Ten strikeouts against that team, that’s pretty impressive. He threw the ball really well.”

Irvin followed that up with a strong start in Cleveland (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks).

Going up against the Braves again last night in the nation’s capital, Irvin held the Nationals’ NL East rivals off the board through six scoreless, giving up four hits and two walks in a 96-pitch, 64-strike outing which ended with Irvin working around a leadoff double in the fifth, and a leadoff single and double in the sixth which put runners on first and third with no one out, but the starter recorded three straight outs without a run scoring, preserving a 2-0 lead in what ended up a 2-1 win.

Irvin got 16 swinging strikes, nine on his curve and five on his fastball, and he recorded 12 called strikes, six on his sinker, four on his curve, and two on his fastball.

The two runs for the Nationals came in the fourth, when CJ Abrams doubled to left to start the inning, and Nick Senzel took a one-out walk, then both stole bases (9 for Abrams, No. 1 for Senzel, who was the only roster regular without a stolen base on the year to that point).

Abrams scored on a throwing error on the play, 1-0, and Senzel scored later in the inning on an RBI single by Ildemaro Vargas, 2-0.

“[Irvin] was good,” Martinez said after evening things up two games into the four-game series with the Braves this weekend. “Another guy to face the Braves just last week. Goes out and pitches really well against them again. That’s a tough team, as we all know. They can hit, so what our two starters did these first two games was pretty impressive. It really was. They kept us in a ballgame. We faced a tough pitcher [Chris Sale]. We just got enough runs. Sometimes just one more than the other guys helps, right? So I’m proud of the guys.”

“A lineup like that is a daunting task and those guys are really good over there. So for me, it’s all about competing,” Irvin told reporters.

“Just making really good pitches and keeping a high level of focus throughout all those innings.”

Irvin’s final inning of work, in particular, stood out for his manager, who praised the young starter’s composure after two runners reached to start the sixth.

“He’s learned so much in a short period of time how to stay in control in situations like that,” Martinez said. “I mean, high-leverage situations don’t seem to rattle him that much. Doesn’t seem to bother him. So he knows what he needs to do. And he worked really good.”

“The biggest thing is when you’re in those high-leverage situations, don’t let it unravel,” the skipper added.

“If you give up a run, okay, but stay within ourselves, we can always come back, but when things start unraveling, you start walking guys, next guy gets a base hit, things get a little crazy, but he’s done really well with that.”

“You lock in just a little bit more,” Irvin said. “That’s one of those situations where you can give in and you know, ruin a quality outing. It’s just about competing. Making sure that I do everything I can to keep us ahead in that ballgame. And you just have to be a little more precise.”

Derek Law tossed a clean seventh, striking out two. Hunter Harvey gave up two hits and the Braves’ only run in the eighth, but kept it 2-1, then Kyle Finnegan worked around a wild pitch/third strike which put the leadoff man on, getting a double play and a backwards K to lock down his 17th save.

“They fought all game, we hung, and then Finnegan came in and closed the door,” Martinez said.

RUNNING GAME:

Washington’s Nationals still led the big leagues with 95 stolen bases as a club this season going into last night’s game, but 10 of their 24 baserunners who were caught stealing had been caught in the last 15 games, the most in the majors over that stretch, with their 24 CS overall the third-most in the majors on the year.

“I think some of our guys who are supposed to steal bases aren’t getting on as frequent,” Davey Martinez said of the recent down-turn in the success rate on the basepaths.

“We need those guys to get on and cause havoc.”

Running is part of this club’s DNA, as the seventh-year skipper has said all season, and they need to run at times to make things happen on the offensive end, but recently, he said, the club has been pressing too much.

MLB: JUN 02 Nationals at Guardians
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“I think we’re trying to push the envelope a little too much,” he explained, “because we’re not scoring any runs, and that happens because as a team we start pressing and we’re trying to make things happen. I think we’ll get back to — as soon as our guys start swinging the bats better, the success rate will definitely go up. I say it all the time, we got to get on first base first, some of our guys, and then we’ve got to push the envelope a little bit. It’s just who we are.”

It’s also important, he stressed, to pick your spots.

“There’s certain situations where we got to be a little smarter, for sure. The other day, we knew that [Mets’ catcher Luis] Torrens – when he catches – he had a good arm. The other guy [starter Luis Severino] is pretty quick to the plate, that’s not a good time to steal. We’ve just got to understand when to run and when not to run. But I love our aggressiveness, I really do, but we got to get guys on base, and really start scoring some more runs, especially early.

“I said this yesterday, we score early, and the game is different.”

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Title: Washington Nationals news & notes: Jake Irvin and Nats beat Braves, 2-1; Running game + more…
Author: Patrick Reddington

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