Gray continues rise with 7 solid frames, but Nats' bats stay quiet

June 26th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Another solid outing on the mound put the Nationals in a position to win. But this time around, even a career effort from  couldn’t help them pull it off in a 3-2 walk-off loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Saturday.

Gray took the mound fresh off a week of rest after tossing a career-high 117 pitches in his no-decision start against the Phillies on June 18. So, of course, he followed it up with a career-high seven solid innings of two-run baseball. 

“I’ve definitely been shooting for that over the last year,” Gray said. “It was a lot of fun being out there for the seventh.”

Gray really only gave up one big hit: a two-run homer to Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe in the second inning. From then on, Texas could only string together a few base hits. The right-hander is now 2-0 over his last five starts with a 1.24 ERA. He finished the day having surrendered four hits and one walk while striking out nine.

“I just stayed confident in my stuff [after giving up the home run], just tried to continue to execute better; kind of telling myself, 'That’s all they get,' [and] keep the team in a position to win,” Gray said.

Gray knows how to separate the outcome of his outing and the outcome of the game, but still, he wants to win. The Nationals have lost each of his last three starts by one run.

“When you lose a game, they’re all tough,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But Josiah did really well. He got 21 outs for us and pitched superb. … We had our chances. I mean, we had our chances early, we had our chances late. We’re struggling to drive in some runs right now.”

It was a tough day for the offense, Martinez said. It’s not that the Nationals couldn’t get on base. They had six hits and drew five walks. One of those hits was a two-run homer from Nelson Cruz to tie the game in the 6th inning.

But, like Martinez said, they just couldn’t drive in most of those runners. The team was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and grounded into three double plays.

“Hitting comes and goes, you know, it’s part of the game,” Cruz said. “We have to focus on things we can control: play defense, run the bases, you know, stuff like that.”

gave up the game-winning home run to Adolis García, the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth inning. Finnegan felt like he was executing well, but one slider in the zone and it was over.

“I thought that was a good opportunity to get a slider in the zone there and get [García] swinging,” Finnegan said. “We didn’t quite get there.”

is scheduled to start in Sunday’s finale. If he can continue the upward trend that Paolo Espino and Gray started this weekend, the Nationals might have a chance to win the series. But, again, he needs the offense to back him up.

“I love what our starting pitchers are doing right now,” Martinez said. “So, [hopefully] Jackson can do that tomorrow and keep us in the game.”