Irvin, with some late run support, authors latest gem for Nats (updated)

irvin @ MIA

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Josiah Gray got the Opening Day assignment based off his 2023 campaign. MacKenzie Gore got the hype based off his reputation and knack for the occasional dominant outing. But the member of the Nationals rotation who had the best spring and most looked poised to break out might well have been Jake Irvin.

Three months later, the right-hander might just be the best pitcher on the staff. And in a couple weeks, he might just end up representing the team at the All-Star Game.

As the season’s unofficial second half got under way this afternoon with Game 82, Irvin took the mound at Tropicana Field and kept doing what he did throughout the first half. With six superb innings of one-hit ball, he led the way and bought time for his teammates to get their bats going, which they finally did during a late explosion that turned a close game against the Rays into an 8-1 rout.

Irvin was stellar again, overcoming an early (and unlucky) home run surrendered to hold Tampa Bay hitless the rest of the way. And thanks to the kind of run support that hasn’t been provided regularly enough, he emerged with his sixth win while lowering his ERA to 3.03 (ninth-best in the National League) and WHIP to 1.061 (seventh-best in the NL).

"When he first got to spring training, he was impressive," catcher Keibert Ruiz said. "And he's been great for us this year."

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With big smile and blue hair, Ramírez happy for opportunity with Nats


When the Nationals signed Harold Ramírez to a minor league deal two weeks ago, the idea was that he could provide another right-handed bat to face left-handed pitching. He joined the Nats this week leading all major leaguers with a .339 batting average against left-handed pitchers since 2020, which could definitely help a team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in hitting southpaws.

Ramírez wasn’t having a terrible year by league standards, hitting .268 in 48 games with the Rays before they designated him for assignment and released him. There just wasn’t a lot of power (.305 slugging percentage and .589 OPS) or consistency after he hit .300 in each of the previous two seasons.

The question wasn’t really: Could Ramírez recapture his hitting ability? It was more: Where is his mindset after being designated for assignment in the middle of the season?

There was a conversation to be had between the 29-year-old and the Nats brass as he joined the team in San Diego on Monday. And that conversation was all about confidence.

“We just talked about confidence,” Ramírez said. “What can I do when I hit? We feel excited because I'm here. … I always have confidence because that's the most important thing for me.”

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Nats select contract of Ramírez, option Lipscomb back to Rochester

Trey Lipscomb swing

SAN DIEGO – Harold Ramírez walked into the Nationals clubhouse at Petco Park with blue hair and a wide smile. He looked like the only kid ever to be excited on his first day at his new school. It’s because he was back in a major league clubhouse for the first time in three weeks.

The Nationals selected Ramírez’s contract from Triple-A Rochester before opening a three-game series against the Padres. The 29-year-old, who was designated for assignment by the Rays on June 7 and released on June 13, signed a minor league deal with the Nats on June 15 and needed just seven minor league games before joining a big league roster again.

“I really feel very excited to be here in the big leagues to be here with the Nationals,” he said in the visiting dugout after taking his first batting practice with his new team. “I just really want to give my 100 percent and take advantage of this opportunity.”

While not in the starting lineup tonight, he is available off the bench as a right-handed pinch-hitter for manager Davey Martinez, who says Ramírez will get opportunities against lefties.

“We picked up Harold. So he was down with us in Rochester, trying to get him going. He started swinging back really well,” Martinez said. “We needed a right-handed hitter. He's a veteran guy that hits lefties really well. So he's gonna get an opportunity to definitely play against lefties. And also if he starts swinging the bat, I can use him in our lineup. So we're gonna go over here. We wanted to bring him in today. He'll pinch-hit today for us. But get him acclimated and get him in as soon as possible.”

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Game 78 lineups: Nats at Padres


SAN DIEGO – Hello from beautiful, sunny Southern California! The Nationals are set to begin a three-game series here against the Padres after winning two of three in Colorado against the Rockies. And they have escaped the extreme heat of both Denver and Washington, D.C. to San Diego, where it is forecasted to be in the mid-70s all week.

Don’t look now, but this series actually has some playoff implications. Yes, it is still June, but entering today, the Nats are only a half-game behind the Padres for the final National League Wild Card spot. With a series victory, they could leave town firmly in a postseason position and at or above .500.

The Nationals are sending Patrick Corbin back to the mound for his 16th start of the year. Although he has only been charged with one run in each of his last two outings, it should be noted that Josiah Gray will be making his fourth rehab start with Triple-A Rochester in the coming days. As he gets closer to his return, the Nats get closer to having to make a decision on their veteran left-hander, who needs another solid outing to make a case for keeping his rotation spot.

Matt Waldron makes his 16th start of the year for the Padres. The right-handed rookie is 5-6 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.164 WHIP this season. He’s currently on a dominant stretch of five straight quality starts in which he’s gone 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA. Waldron hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start since May 5 against the Diamondbacks.

Harold Ramírez is reportedly meeting the Nationals here in San Diego. No roster move has been announced yet, so we’ll see if he makes it in time for today’s game. The Nats signed the veteran outfielder to a minor league contract after he was designated for assignment by the Rays and cleared waivers earlier this month.

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Nats hope veteran Ramírez can provide right-handed punch

ramírez batting blue

Seeking another right-handed bat to a lineup that has lacked for consistent production, the Nationals signed Harold Ramírez to a minor league contract today, with the understanding the veteran outfielder/first baseman could be called up to the majors in short order.

Ramírez, 29, owns a career .287/.325/.408 slash line in parts of six seasons with the Marlins, Guardians and Rays and was a highly productive member of Tampa Bay’s lineup last year with a .313/.353/.460 slash line in 122 games. But after slumping this season to a .589 OPS, Ramírez was designated for assignment and then released Friday.

The Rays owe Ramírez the bulk of his $3.8 million salary, and the Nationals now only responsible for a prorated portion of the major league minimum ($740,000) if he reaches the big leagues with them. He’s due to report to Triple-A Rochester and play for the Red Wings tonight, and if things go well he could be promoted in a week or so.

“We signed him to help us here, not Triple-A,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We want him here. But we’ve got to get him going. He hasn’t played in about seven, eight, nine days. I want to give him some at-bats before he comes up.”

Ramírez has played the bulk of his career at the two corner outfield positions while also serving as a regular DH, but he does have 39 games of experience at first base. Martinez mentioned all of those positions in listing where Ramírez could help them, then specifically suggested he could be a right-handed option for them in left field, which has been manned by the left-handed Jesse Winker most of the season.

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