Gray gets roughed up, Lynn gets tossed in "weird game" in West Palm Beach

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Josiah Gray has been impressive over his first two starts of spring training. He only gave up one run, four hits and two walks while striking out 10 in his first two starts over five innings for a 1.80 ERA.

But you can’t put too much stock into spring training numbers, good or bad.

Gray saw his first bad results of Grapefruit League action tonight in what would be a 7-6 loss to the Cardinals on a muggy night in West Palm Beach.

“It wasn't great,” Gray admitted after the game. “Even from the second batter on, I felt like I was out of sorts. I wasn't really throwing strikes. Kind of just battling myself there on the mound. I was happy to finish the outing well, but I think overall it was just a poor outing and not the way I wanted things to go today.”

The right-hander’s night started rough. After walking Jordan Walker in the first, he surrendered a two-run home run to Nolan Gorman to put the Nats in a 2-0 hole. He needed 21 pitches (only 10 strikes) to get out of the first inning.

The second inning unraveled quickly for Gray, who started the frame with a strikeout. But the next six batters reached base via single, hit-by-pitch, single, single, walk and walk to allow three runs to score.

Manager Davey Martinez came out to have a conversation with Gray before the starter walked back to the dugout. Minor leaguer Luis Reyes came in and got a double play with one pitch to end the inning.

“He was just a little off,” Martinez said. “His timing was all out of whack a little. He started pushing, getting underneath and pushing the ball. He threw a lot of breaking balls that just wasn't what he was trying to do. Spring training that third time out there, I think sometimes you get a little (out of whack), so we'll work some things out with him this week and get him back out there. He should be fine.”

At 50 pitches, Gray came back out for the top of the third inning. You can’t put too much stock into spring training rules either.

“Spring training, just kind of working through some things,” Gray said. “But yeah, it's spring training and it's good to get these things out early and see how we can adjust and rebound. When Davey said, 'Hey, you're gonna go back out there for the third' and I was able to get a couple of quick outs, that obviously boosted the morale of the day. But overall, I definitely got to go out there better and stay on the attack as I did in my first two outings and put the team in the driver's seat early.”

Gray gave up another single, but otherwise got out of the inning unscathed, including another strikeout. His night finally finished after 2 ⅓ innings, five hits, five runs, three walks, two strikeouts, a home run and a hit batter on 66 pitches, 22 strikes. His spring ERA is now up to 7.36.

“I'm always game-by-game,” Gray said. “After a good outing, I don't get too high. After a bad ending, I don't want to get too low. But yeah, it's always game-by-game for me. So I always take things from every game, whether good or bad, and how I can work on them in the bullpen. So obviously, there's a lot of bad today that I'll work on in the bullpen and get ready for the next outing. You kind of have to just take your blows with it. It's a long season. It's a long spring training. Just got to come back tomorrow with my head up and get back to work.”

* Cardinals starter Lance Lynn’s night didn’t go any better. In fact, one could argue it was worse because of a very bizarre situation.

The veteran right-hander issued three walks, a single to Jesse Winker and a bases-clearing double to Nick Senzel in the bottom of the first to allow the Nats to grab a 4-2 lead.

He was pulled before finishing the first, but like Gray, he returned in the top of the second to continue his night. He gave up a single and a stolen base to Jacob Young, but retired the next three Nats batters at the top of the order.

Then it got weird.

After a groundout by Joey Meneses to start the third, Lynn was ejected by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez during Joey Gallo’s at-bat.

Lynn was arguing balls and strikes when he got the toss and protested the ejection in order to finish his night. Hernandez wasn’t having it as Lynn went back to the dugout to gather his things and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol had a discussion with the veteran (and at times controversial) umpire. As he started toward the dugout, Lynn sarcastically rolled the ball back to Hernandez, who picked it up and tossed it back to the mound.

Marmol was eventually ejected as well for still arguing once he returned to the dugout.

“Crazy. I didn't really know what was going on,” Gray said. “But it just all escalated so quickly. I think he warned him. He was like, 'That's enough.' And then he threw him out. I was like, come on, it's a spring training game. Angel doesn't have the best, I guess, reputation. So it was just interesting. And then it kind of snowballed from there. I thought I'd never see something like that, so it was just really interesting to see.”

And then things got weirder.

Lynn didn’t walk to the visiting clubhouse, which is accessed via the right field corner at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches. He instead went to the visiting bullpen in left field to throw more pitches before officially ending his night.

Hernandez wasn’t having any of that either. He instructed the third base umpire to kick Lynn out and have him make the long walk across the outfield, which he took his sweet time to complete. Marmol met Lynn in right field as he waved to the crowd and the two finally exited to the visitors clubhouse.

Said Lynn to a Cardinals reporter: “I’m in spring training and Angel’s in midseason form.”

While both teams seemingly remained quiet, the crowd of 3,539 – both Nationals and Cardinals fans alike – let Hernandez hear it for the rest of the game.

“That was a very weird game,” said Martinez.

Just another night in West Palm Beach.

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm ...

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