5. Fister returns to California: After he walked at least one batter and as many as four in his first four starts, Merced, California-born right-hander Doug Fister avoided walking anyone in his last two outings, both wins for Washington.
In a 1-0 win over the New York Mets in Citi Field, Fister threw 6 ⅓ scoreless, and he limited the Atlanta Braves to three runs on six hits in 6 ⅔ IP in D.C. last week in an 8-6 win for the Nationals in which he received no decision.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked about the 31-year-old's command being back following the start against the Braves after Fister struggled to keep the ball down in the zone early this season.
Fister held the Nationals' NL East rivals hitless through four, with the only runner reaching base a HBP, but gave up a run on a single and RBI double in the fifth, and two more on a two-out, two-run double in the seventh before he was lifted.
"His command has been good," Williams said after the game. "Today the changeup was really good -- until the last inning. He started to get up in the zone a little bit, but for six innings there he was in command. He threw -- it may have been a ball that was up in the strike zone on 3-2 for their first run, but other than that he was throwing it where he wanted to."
"I kind of ran out of gas," Fister admitted. "Skip had every right coming out and getting me there. I couldn't locate a ball there in the last inning. Just unfortunate, but guys came in behind me and did the job."
Early in the game, Fister said, when his command was there, "... the biggest thing was some timing on my delivery in general. Being able to stay back and really locate the fastball down. It's been a huge focus, and it's been a really big battle all year long so far and tonight we were able to go ahead and kind of lock that in a little bit."
Through six starts this season, Fister is (2-1) with a 2.87 ERA, 4.07 FIP, nine walks (2.15 BB/9) and 17 Ks (4.06 K/9) in 37 ⅔ innings, over which opposing hitters have a .264/.306/.389 line against him.
His second career start vs the Padres (after he gave up a run on six hits in 9 IP in a 2011 outing when he was still with Seattle), began -- after a two-hour rain delay one at bat into the game -- with two quick outs before Matt Kemp lined a 1-0 fastball to left center. Justin Upton stepped in with a runner on and ripped a single through short to put two on with two out. Derek Norris, the '07 Nats' Draft pick, took a 1-0 fastball up in the zone to left-center for a three-run home run that bounced off the scoreboard that hangs below the second deck. 3-0 Padres. Jedd Gyorko lined a two-out single to center field, but Denard Span caught Will Middlebrooks' liner for the third out of an 18-pitch first by Fister.
Fister retired the first two batters in the second, but a 1-2 changeup knee-high inside ended up sailing out to right off Cory Spangenberg's bat. 4-0 Padres. Will Venable took the first walk from Fister in his last two starts. Kemp was 2 for 2 after a line drive to left on a first-pitch fastball. Upton's second single of the game brought Venable around to make it 5-0 San Diego. Norris just missed his second home run of the game, bouncing a two-run triple off the left-center fence. 7-0. 23-pitch 2nd, 41 total after two.
That was it for Fister. He bunted into an out in the top of the third, but was replaced on the mound by Blake Treinen.
• Doug Fister's Line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HRs, 41 P, 25 S, 2/2 GO/GO.
4. Joe's big brother: Tyson Ross, 28, is the older brother of Nationals' prospect Joe Ross, the right-hander acquired along with soon-to-be-Nats' prospect Trea Turner in the big three-team trade between San Diego, Tampa Bay and Washington this winter.
Tyson, a 2008 2nd Round pick by the Oakland Athletics out of Cal State Berkeley, was acquired by the Padres in a four-player deal in November of 2012 and he debuted in the majors with San Diego in 2010.
Through seven starts this season, Ross was (1-3) with a 3.98 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, 23 walks (5.09 BB/9) and 48 Ks (10.62 K/9), which were tied for the fifth-best amongst National League starters heading into tonight's outing.
Over 40 ⅔ IP, the right-hander, who features a four-seam fastball that averages 93.2 mph, a two-seam fastball that sits around 93.2 and an 86.9 mph slider he throws more often than anything else, has held opposing hitters to a combined .247/.346/.373 line, with left-handers (.273/.364/.468) faring better than lefties (.222/.330/.284).
Ross was facing the Nationals for the fourth time in his six-year career, after having posted a 4.76 ERA and a .227/.333/.432 line against over 11 ⅓ IP in the previous three outings.
His fifth start vs the Nats and his eighth start this season began with a backwards K of Denard Span... and then a two-hour rain delay.
We don't have rain delays often, but when we do we have fun! pic.twitter.com/LXSsHiWsEF— Petco Park (@PetcoPark) May 15, 2015
At 12:10 AM EDT, the second batter of the game, Yunel Escobar stepped in, and grounded back to the mound. Jayson Werth's swinging K ended a 12-pitch top of the first.
The Nationals went down in order in an eight-pitch second that left Ross at 20 pitches after two.
Ian Desmond singled to start the third, but three outs later he was stranded at the end of a 10-pitch frame by Ross, who was up to 30 pitches after three scoreless.
Bryce Harper took a high 3-1 fastball for a called strike, then took a low slider for his 31st walk of the season with two down in the Nationals' fourth. Harper went first-to-third on a two-out single to center by Ryan Zimmerman, bringing Wilson Ramos up with two on and two out. An opposite field single brought Harper in to make it 7-1 Padres. 26-pitch fourth for Ross, 56 total after four.
With the rain coming down hard again, Danny Espinosa singled to start the fifth and took second on a sac bunt by Blake Treinen. Denard Span's swinging bunt moved Espinosa to third. Yunel Escobar brought Espinosa in with a groundout to short, 8-2. Jayson Werth's fly to right ended a 15-pitch fifth by Ross, who was up to 71 pitches.
Bryce Harper took walk no.32 of 2015 in the first at bat of the sixth. When Ryan Zimmerman took another free pass in the next at bat, after Harper stole second, the Padres went to the bullpen...
• Tyson Ross' Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 83 P, 54 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
3. vs the Padres: There's not much history and nothing approaching a rivalry between Washington and San Diego. The Padres held a 36-26 advantage in the head-to-head matchup heading into this (long-)weekend's four-game set, but the Nationals had the edge over the last few seasons with a 12-7 record against the Friars since 2012.
There was, however, one familiar face in the Padres' lineup for the series-opener.
Derek Norris, a 2007 Nationals' 4th Round pick, was traded to the Oakland A's in the Gio Gonzalez deal back in December of 2011, and dealt to the Padres this past winter.
In his first series against the franchise that drafted and developed him last May in the O.co Coliseum, Norris went off on the Nationals, with four hits in nine at bats, two of them home runs (both three-run blasts off Gio Gonzalez) and seven RBIs in the three-game set, after which Norris was clear that he felt he had something to prove.
Norris: "You wanna show them, this is what you’re missing. Not in a drastic, blatant manner, but showing them this is what you coulda had."— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) May 10, 2014
In his fourth game against the Nationals tonight, Norris stepped in for the first time with two on and two out in the bottom of the first and did it again. Three-run home run on a 1-0 fastball. 393 ft to left center, 3-0 Padres. 5 for 10, three, three-run home runs vs his old organization.
A two-run triple to left-center in the second left Norris 6 for 11 career vs the Nationals, and made it 7-0 Padres.
A groundout to short left Norris 2 for 3 tonight (with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs) and 6 for 12 career vs the Nats.
Norris walked the fourth time up, that's the Norris we remember! #DENOBP
2. Turning Point(s): Two-out rallies in the first and second set Derek Norris up with two runners on in consecutive at bats, and the former Nats' farmhand drove all four in, with a three-run home run in the first and a two-run triple in the second. 7-0 Padres after two.
Bryce Harper shook off a high called strike by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo that he thought was high, and took his 31st walk of the season on a slider in the dirt from Tyson Ross on the next pitch, bringing Ryan Zimmerman up with a runner on. Zimmerman hit a single through the middle of the infield and Wilson Ramos stepped in next and took a 92 mph 0-1 fastball through the right side for an RBI single that made it 7-1 Padres.
1. The Wrap-Up: Blake Treinen took over for Doug Fister in the bottom of the third and retired the Padres in order in a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
Cory Spangenberg hit a 3-1 sinker out to left in the first at bat of the Padres' fourth, giving San Diego an 8-1 lead.
Will Middlebrooks hit a two-out single through short in the bottom of the fifth, but Alexi Amarista K'd looking at a high 0-2 sinker to end a 19-pitch fifth by Treinen, who was up to 50 pitches and five Ks after the fifth.
Dale Thayer took over for Tyson Ross with two on and no one out in the Nats' 6th and got a lineout to right by Wilson Ramos and a backwards K with an 0-2 fastball to Ian Desmond. Danny Espinosa's fly to left stranded both runners.
Treinen gave up a leadoff single by pinch hitter Abraham Almonte in the first at bat of the Padres' sixth. Treinen caught Cory Spangenberg looking with a 1-2 slider and got a double play grounder out of Will Venable to end a quick frame. 4-6-3. Seven-pitch inning, 57 total after 4 IP.
Kevin Quackenbush retired the Nationals in order on three groundouts in a 13-pitch seventh.
Matt Grace gave up a two-out walk to Derek Norris, but a fly to right by Jedd Gyorko ended a quick, 12-pitch seventh.
Bryce Harper took his 33rd walk of the second and his third straight walk in three trips to the plate in the second at bat of the eighth, after Jayson Werth singled off Quackenbush to start the frame. Ryan Zimmerman sent a fly to right for out no.2. Another fly to right was deep enough to bring Werth in from third, 8-3.
Harper took second on the sac fly, and third on an error by Alexi Amarista on an Ian Desmond grounder to short. Brandon Maurer struck Danny Espinosa out to end the frame.
Grace came back out for the bottom of the eighth and gave up back-to-back singles, but a 6-4-3 DP off of Yangervis Solarte's bat left a runner on third with two out. Cory Spangenberg K'd swinging to end the frame.
Maurer came back out for the ninth and gave up a one-out infield single by Denard Span and a two-out line drive single to center by Jayson Werth. Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and two out and... walked? Nope. One-hop grounder to second. Ballgame.
Nationals now 19-17