There are some things you just never want to see. A “60 Minutes” film crew at your front door. Basement furniture floating after a hard rain. And maybe above all, two-out walks.
Just ask Yankees starter Sonny Gray.
“Two out walks will always hurt you and today, you saw,” Gray said after he followed two strong outings with a bit of a clunker Wednesday. “Two-out walks are never good. They can escalate, and that’s what happened.”
Gray lasted five innings, which was somewhat commendable after he labored through a 34-pitch first inning that only seemed to take forever in the Yankees’ eventual 5-4 loss to the Nationals at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.
Gray settled in after the first, aided immensely by the Nationals’ tribute to bad baserunning — two guys picked off, one doubled off, another thrown out stretching (a fifth was out stealing well after Gray exited). But the fourth inning was the dagger for Gray.
With two out, Daniel Murphy walked, Matt Adams singled and then Gray was victimized by the first of teenager Juan Soto’s two homers. Soto, 19, lofted a fly to left that just carried over the wall for a 4-3 lead.
“We were trying to throw a fastball in and it kind of went up and away,” said Gray, who was coming off two strong outings, including his best performance of the season — an eight-inning, two-hit, eight-strikeout scoreless effort. “I thought it was foul but if it was fair that Gardy [Brett Gardner] was going to be able to make a play and then it kept carrying, kept carrying.”
The first inning seemed to take a toll, but Gray insisted he felt fine. Manager Aaron Boone, however, thought it affected Gray.
“Had a hard time that first inning really putting guys away. His pitch count was up to 34 and that in a way did him in a little bit. It was just real hard for him all night,” Boone said.
“The pitch count all night long just continuing to climb. The thing is he’s so close to getting out of it there but a fly ball three-run homer and kind of spoiled what was a night where I thought he competed really well when it wasn’t going his way.”
Gray worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning, his last, before the Yankees tied it in the bottom half, ensuring the righty’s fifth no-decision of the season. So the line read five innings, seven hits, four earned runs, two walks and one strikeout, on 89 pitches. Afteward, Gray was more bummed by the walk than the three-run homer or Trea Turner’s 10-pitch at-bat in the first inning.
“The first inning, they put some really good at bats together, fouled a lot of pitches off. I felt good after, just coming away from that inning with one and then got into a little bit of a groove,” Gray said. “Then there in the fourth, get two quick outs and then you walk a guy. That’s never a good thing.”