After early hiccup, Gore responds with dominant start

May 25th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- In his 50th Major League start, experienced a career first: the southpaw allowed a leadoff home run.

What was more notable was how Gore responded.

After surrendering a second-pitch dinger off a fastball to Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, Gore struck out third baseman Dylan Moore in the next at-bat to settle in for a career-high-tying seven-inning performance in the Nationals’ 6-1 win over the Mariners.

“You never want to lead off a game with a homer, but just [focus on] the next guy,” Gore said. “What had happened had happened.”

And Gore quickly put that in the past. He held the Mariners to just three hits following Crawford’s 399-foot home run to center field. Gore concluded the noteworthy outing with eight strikeouts and one walk off 98 pitches (65 strikes).

“After that, he controlled the game really good,” said catcher Keibert Ruiz. “He executed the plan.”

Gore completed seven innings for the third time in his career, and the first time since May 28, 2023, at the Royals. He retired the side in the fourth and the fifth innings, and he faced only four batters in each of the other five innings to keep his pitch count down.

“You hope that it is [a long outing]; you hope that things don’t blow up,” said manager Dave Martinez. “... But as he got to that fourth inning and I’m watching his pitch count, I’m watching what he’s doing, I thought then that he can go deep in this game, which would be great. And he did. Going seven innings is really good, especially for our bullpen. We’ve got a lot of games coming up, so we’re going to need our starting pitchers to go a little deeper in games.”

Gore concluded his evening by catching second baseman Jorge Polanco swinging in a full count that included a 97.2 mph fastball strike. Martinez only needed to call on right-handers Hunter Harvey and Dylan Floro to hold on for the victory.

Gore improved his ERA to 3.04. He has limited opponents to two runs or less in eight of his 10 starts this season.

“There is just one word to say, and that was ‘incredible,’” second baseman Luis García Jr. said of Gore.

Sparked by García, Gore received run support from the Nationals’ offense that had been up-and-down as of late. The Nats tied their season high of three home runs, last recorded on May 5 vs. the Blue Jays. They improved to 16-4 when scoring five or more runs.

García got the Nats on the board with a three-run blast in the fourth inning off right-hander George Kirby, who held Washington hitless for the first three frames. García drove in CJ Abrams and Joey Meneses with a 380-foot, first-pitch dinger to left-center field for a 3-1 lead.

Ruiz gave the Nationals insurance runs in the sixth with a loud, 406-foot shot to right-center field that plated Jesse Winker. Eddie Rosario swatted the Nats’ third homer of the night with a solo blast off former National Austin Voth in the eighth inning. Rosario’s seventh homer of the season was 1.57 feet from the center of the plate, the furthest-inside pitch a left-handed batter has homered off of in the Statcast era (since 2015).

“Homers are fun,” said Gore. “We all love them. You guys probably love them, too.”

Especially when the one allowed was made a distant memory in a dominant pitching performance.