Irvin K's career-high 10, but 'pen falters vs. Braves

May 29th, 2024

ATLANTA -- had a career start against the Braves on Tuesday night, delivering six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits, striking out a career-high 10 batters at Truist Park.

A Nationals win, however, was not to be.

Jacob Barnes took the mound in relief of Irvin in the seventh inning and promptly allowed two runs on three hits, which was all the Braves needed to even the four-game series, handing the Nationals a 2-0 loss.

Irvin carved up Atlanta’s offense over six innings, but he accumulated 90 pitches in the process, forcing manager Dave Martinez to go to his bullpen.

“[Irvin was] outstanding,” Martinez said. “The kid was really good; 10 strikeouts against that team, that’s pretty impressive. He threw the ball really well. After that sixth inning, we had a conversation with him. That last pitch, he let it all out. Great job by him. Jake pitched really well.”

Irvin has made it through at least five innings in all but one of his 11 starts this season. With his stunning performance vs. the Braves, he lowered his ERA from 3.79 to 3.43.

“It was just a good, steady mix,” Irvin said. “I was throwing the four-seamer at the top of the zone. That was kind of the focus for us this week. We executed pretty well and it leads to good things.”

In relief of Irvin, Barnes was greeted rudely with a Marcell Ozuna solo home run to lead off the seventh. Matt Olson followed with a single and Sean Murphy hit a one-out single to set the table for a Jarred Kelenic sacrifice fly.

“I like Jacob Barnes [in that spot],” Martinez said. “He didn’t locate that pitch to Ozuna. Other than that, he had him with two strikes and the fastball was up.”

Leading into Tuesday, Barnes had faced Ozuna 11 times dating back to 2017, and Ozuna had tallied just one hit and one walk with four strikeouts.

“It just missed a spot,” Barnes said. “I’ve faced him plenty of times before. I just didn’t execute on that one, unfortunately. The timing was pretty bad. [I wanted that pitch to be] anywhere down or away from him. I’ve had a lot of success against him. It’s unfortunate that I left it middle and up. He did what he was supposed to do on that. I just didn’t execute.”

Between Irvin and Braves starter Max Fried, it was a classic pitchers' duel. Fried had another dominant performance with eight scoreless innings, allowing seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts to earn the win. Out of the 'pen, Raisel Iglesias delivered a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

“You have to look at the other side -- they have Max Fried,” Martinez said. “He pitched really well. We got some traffic and he got out of jams with the double plays. We hit into four double plays. He pitched well, we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Washington tallied three of its seven hits in the first inning but had nothing to show for it. CJ Abrams led off with a double but was subsequently doubled off at second base on a Lane Thomas lineout to Ozzie Albies. After Joey Meneses and Nick Senzel tallied back-to-back singles, Keibert Ruiz flew out to end the threat.

“CJ just thought the ball was going over Ozzie’s head,” Martinez said. “In that situation right there, you got no outs, you just go back and see the ball hit the grass and stop at third."

Abrams went 2-for-4 in the contest and he is 4-for-8 in the series -- his return to his home state of Georgia.

“I thought [Thomas’ line drive] was hit a little harder and I thought it was going to go over his head,” Abrams said. “I have to be more disciplined right there. It was no outs. If it drops, a runner on third would be OK. That’s on me.”

The Nationals had another baserunner erased in the top of the fifth inning, when Jesse Winker led off the frame with a single but was subsequently picked off by Fried.

"Winker just froze," Martinez said. "[Fried] threw over and we all know he’s got a great move. He froze and got picked off. [Those were] two mistakes and when you got a guy like that, those are mistakes that can’t happen.”