Irvin can't replicate dominance vs. Mets in tough start

After tossing 8 scoreless innings against NY last time out, righty allows 6 runs in 6 frames

July 10th, 2024

NEW YORK -- What a difference a start makes.

Last Thursday, Nationals right-hander had his way against the Mets, pitching a season-high eight scoreless innings in a victory at Nationals Park. He was often getting ahead in the count.

On Tuesday night against the same team, Irvin wasn’t so lucky. He was often behind in the count and it proved costly in a 7-5 loss at Citi Field.

From the start, Irvin was in for a long game. In the first inning, the Mets had runners on the corners with one out, but Irvin managed to escape the jam by getting Pete Alonso to ground out and striking out Francisco Alvarez.

But the second inning turned out to be the backbreaker. Irvin started the frame by getting two quick outs, but he couldn’t put New York’s relentless offense away. After Jeff McNeil and Harrison Bader reached base on a walk and a single, respectively, Francisco Lindor drove in McNeil with a single to left-center field to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Brandon Nimmo followed and hit what looked like a normal fly ball to left, but the ball kept carrying and landed in the left-field seats for a three-run homer to make it a 4-0 game.

Irvin calmed down during the next three innings, but staggered again in the sixth. Like the second inning, Irvin was able to get two quick outs, but then he allowed a single to Bader and a two-run homer to Lindor to make it a 6-0 game.

“The curveball shape and the fastball shape were pretty bad today,” Irvin said. “They were a little different than they normally are. I’ll go back and look at [the video] and see what the issue was. But definitely not being able to throw them consistently was an issue.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez didn’t show any concern about Irvin after the game. He pointed out that Irvin has been a workhorse during the first half of the season. Entering Tuesday’s action, he had the highest bWAR (3.1) among the team’s starting pitchers. Irvin has one more start against the Brewers before the All-Star break and the skipper expects him to be much better in Milwaukee.

“His breaking ball wasn’t as sharp and he fell behind,” Martinez said. “He made some mistakes [because of] location. All in all, he gave us some innings we needed. It’s just one of those days.”

Like last Thursday, the Nationals didn’t have any answers for Jose Quintana, who pitched seven scoreless innings for the second consecutive start. He kept hitting the corners as Washington collected just one hit against the left-hander.

“He was really good tonight,” Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz said. “He was making pitches. He wasn’t missing in the middle. He was battling in the zone. His breaking ball was good when he got behind in the count. He was attacking the corners and didn’t miss much in the middle. He gave them a chance to win the ballgame.”

But the Nationals didn’t give up. They scored five runs in the final two innings against New York’s bullpen. Ruiz highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer in the ninth inning off right-hander Reed Garrett.

“We were getting close,” Martinez said. “Our bats were getting better. We started driving the ball with a couple of big home runs there. I can tell you about this group: They don’t quit. They are going to keep battling, keep fighting. That’s their character. That’s their mentality. We went from a dismal offensive day to putting up five runs. Hopefully, we’ll come out tomorrow early and score some runs.”