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Nats' Crowe puts in well-rounded effort

No. 4 prospect homers, sets career high with 7 1/3 innings
Wil Crowe has posted a 1.19 WHIP over 10 starts in the Eastern League this season. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)
May 27, 2019

Wil Crowe had heard Max Scherzer kept detailed notes after each start, and just a few weeks ago, decided to take up the strategy for himself. The entry for Monday, May 27, 2019 could be the most interesting yet.Washington's No. 4 prospect hit the first home run of his professional career

Wil Crowe had heard Max Scherzer kept detailed notes after each start, and just a few weeks ago, decided to take up the strategy for himself. 
The entry for Monday, May 27, 2019 could be the most interesting yet.
Washington's No. 4 prospect hit the first home run of his professional career and allowed three earned runs over a career-best 7 1/3 innings Monday to lead Double-A Harrisburg to a 4-3 win over Reading at FNB Field.

"Obviously the homer is something I'm always going to carry with me and remember for the rest of my career," Crowe said. "But my biggest takeaway is that this wasn't my best start -- I didn't have my best stuff at all today -- and I still gave us a chance. We scored some runs to keep them off and got the win because of it. The lesson for me there is even if I don't have my best stuff, like I did today with my two-seamer, I can still always gut something out and help the team."

In the end, it was the 24-year-old's two-run homer in the seventh inning that made the difference.
Crowe came into that portion of the frame, having completed seven innings -- matching the longest outing of his career. When he was scheduled to bat behind Luis Sardiñas with two outs, there was a reliever up in the bullpen, in case Senators manager Matthew LeCroy wanted to pull Crowe for a pinch-hitter. Sardinas hit an RBI single on the first pitch he saw from Phillies No. 7 prospectJoJo Romero, and considering the right-hander had thrown only 90 pitches, LeCroy gave him the thumbs-up to step in the box. Three pitches later, Crowe lifted a 2-0 fastball from the southpaw over the wall in left-center field, making him the third Eastern League pitcher to go yard this season after Altoona's Beau Sulser and Hartford's Brandon Gold.
"I had to tell the umpire that I hadn't even swung yet in the on-deck circle, so I was going to need a second," said Crowe, who is 2-for-14 with seven strikeouts at the plate this season. "He started [me with] a fastball up for the first pitch and then threw, I think, a changeup that kind of tailed off for the second. So with a guy on first, I knew he had to throw me a fastball. I just told myself to make sure I put a good swing on it when it came. He threw it in and a little high, and I just got it. I didn't know it would be a homer, but I knew I squared it up."
Gameday box score
Despite claiming he wasn't making the most of his five-pitch mix (four-seam, two-seam, curveball, slider, changeup), the 2017 second-rounder cruised through his first seven innings. His only run allowed through the first seven frames came in the third, when 13th-ranked Phillies prospect Arquimedes Gamboa lifted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Romero -- the Reading starter who had shown his own offensive ability with a double to lead off the inning. The Harrisburg right-hander ran out of steam in the final frame and exited after giving up three hits to the four batters he faced in the eighth, including an RBI double to the last batter he faced, third-ranked Adam Haseley.
Aaron Barrett allowed one inherited baserunner to score on a groundout, but got Austin Listi to fly out to left for the final out in the eighth. The righty tossed a perfect ninth to close out his 10th save of the season.
Crowe (5-3) moved his ERA to 3.30 through 10 starts with the Senators. He has posted a 1.19 WHIP with 52 strikeouts and 17 walks through 57 1/3 innings. He threw 102 pitches, 67 for strikes, marking the first time this season he eclipsed the century mark. It was a bounceback effort for the University of South Carolina product after he gave up five earned runs over six innings in each of his previous two outings. Almost half (10 of 21) of his earned runs this season came from those two starts. 
"Today was very encouraging," Crowe said. "Both of those last two outings I used as learning experiences. That was the good thing about writing them down. Two outings ago, I didn't have my best stuff and it got away from me. Last outing, I had good stuff, but I had to learn I still can't get away with that alone. Today, I knew I had to battle. That's always been my M.O. Grind it out. Give it my all. It was good to have that and the results, when I wasn't fully myself otherwise."

Monday's chapter will have some cool details about Crowe's hitting ability, but he already knows what the general theme will be regarding his performance on the mound.
"I used to keep things purely mentally because I thought I could remember them fairly well," he said. "But now when it comes to my pregame routines, my cues for doing certain things, they're all there in my notebook. Today, it's going to say I battled when my two-seam wasn't quite there and when I needed to rely mostly on fastball. Next time, I read that, I'll be able to recall what I'm able to do when I'm not at my best. It'll be a reassurance."

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.