Josiah Gray’s Outstanding Performance Amid Nationals’ Defeat against Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Washington right-hander Josiah Gray and his Pittsburgh counterpart Mitch Keller made only two mistakes each through the first five innings of Thursday afternoon’s Nationals-Pirates game.

Keller’s errors were inconsequential — a single by CJ Abrams to start the game and a bunt yielded to Jake Alu in the third inning. Gray’s mistakes, however, had more impact. Pittsburgh outfielder Jack Suwinski and first baseman Alfonso Rivas both hit home runs, leading the Pirates to a 2-0 victory over the Nationals at PNC Park.

“Besides those two pitches, I felt like I threw the ball really well,” Gray said. “I can live with giving up home runs, it happens. It didn’t affect me mentally, and I was just happy to put the team in a good position.”

Gray had an impressive outing, striking out a season-high 10 batters over 6⅓ innings without issuing a walk. However, Keller outperformed him, allowing only three base runners over eight innings. David Bednar closed out the ninth for the Pirates.

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Abrams was picked off at second base in the first inning after straying too far from the bag. Alu never advanced beyond second, and Joey Meneses, who walked in the seventh, never made it past first. The Nationals clinched their fourth consecutive losing season with the loss. The game lasted just 1 hour and 50 minutes, tying it for the shortest nine-inning game in the majors this season.

“The at-bats today were not good,” Manager Dave Martinez said. “We were chasing pitches out of the zone. We need to do a better job, especially against a pitcher like [Keller]. He’s good, but we need to make him throw strikes.”

Gray’s previous start came 11 days ago, in which he allowed three runs over four innings and issued four walks. He also had a heated exchange with a teammate on the field during that outing, though he later apologized. That start was part of a stretch where he only completed six innings once in six starts.

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