5. Ross Returns: In three starts for the Washington Nationals in June, Joe Ross went (2-1), posting a 2.66 ERA, a 1.09 FIP, two walks (0.89 BB/9) and 23 Ks (10.18 K/9) in 20 ⅓ innings, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .244/.263/.295 line.
Ross, who started the season with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, was optioned to Triple-A after his third start, as part of the Nationals' rotation, a 7 ⅓-inning outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he gave up six hits, a walk and one earned run, while striking out 11 of the 27 batters he faced.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was impressed with the start against the Pirates in which Ross earned his second major league win.
"He throws strikes," Williams said. "Throws strikes down in the zone which leads to a lot of swings on the slider down out of the zone. But it starts with the fastball. He throws it where he wants to, pitches in to right-handers which is good too, gets them off that slider a little bit. He's aggressive. He's been aggressive since he's been here."
Ross went out on a good note and Williams told him to keep doing what he was doing.
"It gives him confidence to know that he can pitch against arguably one of the hottest teams in all of baseball and have success," Williams said.
Ross made five starts in Triple-A before he was called back up for tonight's outing, going (3-1) with a 2.19 ERA, a 3.85 FIP, seven walks (2.55 BB/9) and 15 Ks (5.47 K/9) in 24 ⅔ innings pitched for the Chiefs.
His fourth major league start began with a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 first that ended with a nice range-y play and strong throw by Ian Desmond on a grounder to short by Mets' third baseman Daniel Murphy. Another 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame in the second left him at 20 pitches total after two.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third game Ross nine straight outs and (obviously) three scoreless on 29 pitches.
Curtis Granderson singled to right for the first hit of the game off the Nationals' starter, stole second base with Ruben Tejada at the plate and took third on a groundout to short by Tejada. Ross threw a 1-2 slider by Daniel Murphy inside for a swinging strike three and out no.2, but hit Lucas Duda with a slider to put two on with two out for Mets' second baseman Wilmer Flores, who came up with runners on the corners, and lined a 1-1 fastball back up the middle for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Kirk Nieuwenhuis lined out to short to end the frame. 29-pitch frame, 58 total after four.
Juan Lagares singled to right, by a diving Clint Robinson, for a two-out hit in the top of the fifth, but Curtis Granderson K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider for out no.3 of an 11-pitch inning. 69 total for Ross.
Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Ross retired the Mets in order in a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left him at 78 pitches.
Wilmer Flores singled to left to start the seventh, and a grounder to first by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the next at bat got by Clint Robinson at first, putting runners on second and third with no one out. E:3. Kevin Plawecki popped up behind second for out no.1. That was it for Ross... [ed. note - "Skip to no.1 for the exciting conclusion."]
• Joe Ross' Line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 59 S, 8/4 GO/FO.
4. deGrom vs D.C.: Before he made an impressive appearance in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, striking out the side on ten pitches in the sixth inning of the Midsummer Classic, New York Mets' right-hander Jacob deGrom put together a solid first half, going (9-6) in 17 starts with a 2.14 ERA, a 2.61 FIP, 21 walks (1.66 BB/9) and 112 Ks (8.87 K/9) over 113 ⅔ innings pitched in which he held opposing hitters to a combined .200/.246/.284 line.
deGrom, a 2010 9th Round pick out of Stetson University, went eight scoreless in two of his last three starts before the Break, with a rough-ish 5 ⅓-inning outing between.
He ended the first half with a two-hitter against the San Francisco Giants, striking out 10 batters in a 99-pitch effort in which he earned his ninth win.
Two of his six losses this season have, however, come against the Washington Nationals he was facing tonight.
In an April 8th start in the nation's capital, deGrom gave up six hits, two walks and two earned runs in six innings of work in what ended up a 2-1 loss.
In late April, in Citi Field, the Nationals beat him again, scoring five runs, three earned, on five hits in 5 ⅓ innings of what ended up an 8-2 game.
"He's a really good pitcher," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the second straight win over deGrom.
"All of these guys over there are good pitchers. They command the zone, they throw strikes. They run it in there well and he's tough, so like you said, we were able to take advantage of some opportunities."
The third start of the season against the Nationals for the 27-year-old Mets' right-hander began with a 19-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning in which he threw 16 pitches for strikes. Ian Desmond singled with two down in the second, connecting for the Nationals' first hit, but he was caught stealing for out no.3 of a 14-pitch second that left deGrom at 33 pitches.
The Nationals went down in order in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third that left deGrom at 46 pitches. Given a 1-0 lead to work with, the Mets' starter came back with a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left him at 58 pitches.
Yunel Escobar doubled to center to start the Nationals' fifth and took third on a groundout to first by Clint Robinson, who sent an 0-2 slider to first. Ian Desmond stepped in with the tying run 90 ft from home and K'd swinging at a 2-2 fastball up high. Wilson Ramos got a shot with two down and hit an 0-1 fastball to right, just clearing the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run home run that made it 2-1 Nationals. 17-pitch frame for deGrom, 75 total.
A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left deGrom at 82 pitches. The Mets hit for him with runners on second and third and one out in the seventh...
• Jacob deGrom's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 82 P, 61 S, 5/4 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: After last night's loss the Mets are 8-5 in their last 13 games and 16-31 overall on the road this season. They're 2-2 in Nationals Park.
• With his 10-pitch, 3 K outing in the All-Star Game, Jacob deGrom became the first pitcher in All-Star history to strike out three batters on 10-or-fewer pitches.
• For tonight's "Fun with arbitrary end points" segment: deGrom is (6-2) with a 1.38 ERA, nine walks and 75 Ks over his last ten starts going back to May 16th.
• With 11 scoreless starts in his first 39 major league games, deGrom trails on the Marlins' Jose Fernandez (12) over the last 100 years.
• Mets' infielder Ruben Tejada has an eight-game hitting streak going after he went 1 for 4 with a walk in last night's series opener.
• "Fun with arbitary end points Nationals edition": The Nationals have the second-best record in the NL since June 19th, 16-8, trailing only the LA Angeles (18-7). They've outscored their opponents 94-60 over that stretch.
• Clint Robinson has reached base safely in six of the last seven games, going 10 for 26 (.385 AVG) over that stretch with two doubles, two walks and five runs scored.
• The Nationals have won 11 of their last 15 in D.C.
• Bryce Harper has reached base in 17-straight games, posting a .458 OBP over that stretch during which he has 18 hits and 15 walks in 72 PAs.
• Wilson Ramos started the series with a .340/.360/.577 career line, 13 doubles and eight home runs in 44 games against the Mets in his career. He hit his ninth home run in 45 games in the home-half of the fourth.
2. Turning Point(s): Joe Ross retired the first nine batters he faced on 29 pitches in his return to the majors tonight, but New York Mets' leadoff man Curtis Granderson singled to right-center to start the fourth, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on a two-out single to center by WIlmer Flores in what ended up being a 29-pitch fourth inning by Ross. 1-0 Mets.
• Yunel Escobar's leadoff double in the fifth was just the second hit off Mets' starter Jacob deGrom, and a groundout to the right side by Clint Robinson moved him over to third, but Ian Desmond K'd swinging, leaving deGrom one out away from his fifth scoreless frame. Wilson Ramos (aka the Mets-killer) stepped in next, however, and hit an 0-1 fastball out to right, over the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run blast that made it 2-1 Nationals.
• An error by Clint Robinson, after a single by Wilmer Flores, put runners on second and third with no one out in the Mets' seventh. With the Nationals infield drawn in, Joe Ross got a pop to short-center for out no.1, but Aaron Barrett came on in relief and gave up a two-run single to right by Mets' pinch hitter Eric Campbell to put New York up, 3-2 after seven. Mets announcers wondered why that infield was drawn in? Matt Wililams will likely be asked...
1. The Wrap-Up: Nats' right-hander Aaron Barrett came on with runners on second and third in the Mets' seventh after Joe Ross recorded the first out of the frame and gave up a two-run single to right on an 0-1 slider. 3-2 Mets.
Barrett got a groundout to short out of Juan Lagares for the second out of the frame. Felipe Rivero came on to face Curtis Granderson and got him looking for out no.3. 3-2 Mets.
Jenrry Mejia worked around a two-out single by Clint Robinson for a scoreless 15-pitch bottom of the seventh.
Rivero came back out for another inning of work in the eighth, giving up a two-out double to center by Lucas Duda, but nothing else.
Mets' right-hander Bobby Parnell retired the Nationals in order in a quick, 10-pitch eighth.
Tanner Roark gave up a single to left by Kevin Plawecki in the first at bat of the ninth, and an error on the throw in by Matt den Dekker allowed the catcher to go around to third. After walk by Michael Cuddyer, Roark got a check-swing strike three from Juan Lagares for the first out of the frame, but Curtis Granderson singled to center to make it a 4-2 game and Ruben Tejada singled in another run in the next at bat, 5-2. 6-2 on a single by Daniel Murphy.
Abel de Los Santos walked Lucas Duda in his first major league at bat, loading the bases with one out. Wilmer Flores sent a broken-bat grounder to short to bring in another run, 7-2 after eight and a half.
Jeury Familia came on in the ninth and gave up a one-out single by Danny Espinosa, then hit Bryce Harper. Yunel Escobar K'd swinging for out no.2. Clint Robinson grounded out to first. Ballgame.
Nationals now 50-42