No words: A look inside Austin Voth's first complete game win

After the sixth inning of the Nationals' 5-1 seven-inning win over the Phillies in the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader at Nats Park, starter Austin Voth knew he had enough left in the tank to pitch one more frame.

His pitch count had reached 91 - the most he had thrown this season was 88 - and that was in five innings one week ago versus Tampa Bay. But the right-hander didn't care. The Phillies had only two hits off of him, and he still felt strong enough to go for the complete game.

So the one thing Voth definitely did not want at that moment was manager Davey Martinez or pitching coach Paul Menhart to talk him out of finishing this game. After getting Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius to pop up to Trea Turner to end the sixth, he walked off the field to the dugout and went straight down the tunnel, away from the bench.

"I knew my pitch count might have been up there, but I was flying by people because I knew that I didn't want anybody to talk to me," Voth said during Tuesday's postgame Zoom video session. "I didn't want Davey to come up to me. I didn't want Paul to say anything. I just wanted to go in the tunnel and focus on that next inning, and hopefully they didn't come down and talk to me."

voth-pitch-white-gold-sidebar.jpgVoth had thrown 96 pitches in 4 1/3 innings against the Royals on July 5, 2019. In his first game ever in the big leagues, he reached 99 pitches against the Mets on July 14, 2018. He had gotten to this level on his pitch count before. Voth said that this was familiar territory and he knew he could get three more outs.

"I feel like I always rack up my pitch count," Voth said. "I try and go for strikeouts. I try and finish guys, but I have just always had high pitch counts and haven't been able to go past the fifth inning at times. I'd love to do that more often. Today was fun."

And it was fun, fun for Martinez as well, to watch Voth perform up to his capabilities after five losses to begin the season. In those five setbacks, Voth had allowed 22 runs. But in a turnaround the last two starts, Voth has given up two runs over 12 innings, both Nats wins.

"He was awesome," Martinez said. "Really awesome. Here's another guy when things were down, there was a whole lot of conversations with him. One-on-one conversations with him. At one point, he thought we were going to put him in the bullpen, and I told him, 'I'm not going to do that to you. You're our fifth starter. I appointed you the fifth starter. So, you are going to go out there and you are going to start and you are going to pitch.' Those last two outings are what I knew he can do. We saw that in him. He worked hard to get to where he is at now."

Voth admitted most of August was a rocky road of trying to figure out what he was doing with his mechanics and looking to find a way to get more life on his fastball, as he did at the end of 2019.

"The way things kind of didn't start bad for me, but the middle portion of the season for me wasn't the greatest," Voth said. "I definitely want to come out and prove that I can still be a guy going into next year. I still got something to prove."

And during that rocky portion, when he was searching for what was missing, Martinez respected Voth for never hanging his head, for trusting in the process and, more importantly, for trusting in himself that he had the tools to return to the form that brought him success last September. The way a player acts and carries himself when things are not going his way is important to the skipper.

"Kudos to him as well for going out there and staying positive and having confidence," Martinez said. "For me, that's a big thing. The confidence with some of these guys. You build that confidence and then all of sudden they take off. He looked like that guy that we had last year, where he could pump strikes. He could throw anything over for strikes and he is going to get outs, and that's what he did (Tuesday)."

"I like to look at it as I just got nothing to lose," Voth said. "If you look at as you've got nothing to lose, and you go out there and compete the best you can every single time, then you can go home and sleep at night. You can go home knowing that you gave it your all. That's kind of my mentality."

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