5. Ross in Los Angeles: After his last start, a six-inning outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week in the nation's capital in which he gave up five hits and one earned run, on a home run by D-Backs' first baseman Jarrod Saltalamachia, Joe Ross learned that he would remain in the Washington Nationals' rotation even after Stephen Strasburg's return from the DL with veteran right-hander Doug Fister moving to the bullpen.
The start left the 22-year-old right-hander (3-3) after seven major league outings, over which he's put up a 2.80 ERA, a 2.57 FIP, four walks (0.80 BB/9), 47 Ks (9.40 K/9) and a .218/.249/.329 line against in 45 innings pitched.
"He was in command," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the Nationals' 8-3 win.
"He gave up the homer to Salty, but that was it. I thought he threw all of his pitches well, for strikes when he needed to. Worked quickly. Again, continues to pitch well for us."
The rookie starter's composure on the mound has been as impressive as his stuff, Williams explained.
"It's rare," the second-year skipper told reporters.
"But he understands that if he makes pitches, he's got a chance to get them out. We've seen so far that he doesn't walk a whole lot of guys and makes them put the ball in play and that's important.
"His ball's got good late movement on it, on his fastball and a good slider to go along with it for strikes when he needs it and out of the zone when he needs to get a swing and miss too."
His eighth major league start tonight was his first against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he was matched up against Zack Greinke, who was in the midst of a dominant 2015 campaign and nine-start unbeaten streak.
The Nationals' righty's night began with an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 first. Ross walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the second, but retired the next three batters to complete two scoreless on 31 pitches after a 23-pitch frame.
Alberto Callaspo singled with two down in the Dodgers' third, but a 3-2 slider got Adrian Gonzalez swinging to end a 20-pitch frame. 51 total.
Andre Ethier lined 1-1 change to left-center in the first at bat of the bottom of the fourth, and Michael Taylor misplayed the hop after it went over his head, but recovered to make a strong throw in to third where he appeared to cut Ethier down. Upon review, however, the call on the field was overturned. Yunel Escobar never actually tagged him. Triple.
One-out later, with Ethier still on third, Yasiel Puig crushed a hanging 1-0 slider and hit a two-run rocket to left to put the Dodgers up 2-0. 20-pitch frame, 71 total after four.
Jimmy Rollins and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back singles in the first two at bats of the home-half of the fifth.
Two outs later, Ross walked Yasmani Grandal to load the bases up for Yasiel Puig, who lined to right for a three-run triple that Clint Robinson tried for but couldn't catch. 5-0 Dodgers. That was all for Ross.
• Joe Ross' Line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 89 P, 52 S, 3/5 GO/FO.
4. Greinke again... so soon?: When Los Angeles Dodgers' right-hander Zack Greinke was done with eight scoreless innings on the mound against the Washington Nationals last month in the nation's capital, he was up to 43 ⅔ innings overall on a scoreless inning streak that ended up going to 45 ⅔.
LA's 31-year-old starter dominated the Nats, striking out 11 of the 27 batters he faced in what ended up a 5-0 win.
When he took the mound tonight in Dodger Stadium to face the Nationals for the second time this season, the one-time Cy Young-award-winner was trying to extend another streak.
Greinke was unbeaten in his last nine outings going back to a June 13th loss to the San Diego Padres.
Over his unbeaten streak, Greinke was (6-0) with the Dodgers 7-2 in his outings, in which he put up a 1.39 ERA and a .157/.203/.197 line against in 64 ⅔ innings pitched, leaving him (11-2) overall on the year with a 1.71 ERA, a 2.63 FIP, 27 walks (1.60 BB/9), 136 Ks (8.04 K/9) and a .190/.235/.270 line against after 152 ⅓ IP in his third season with the Dodgers.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked after Greinke's start in D.C. about what made him so difficult an opponent.
"Balls out of the strike zone, on the plate, down on the plate, is the way he pitches," Williams said, "establishes low strikes and feeds off aggressiveness down on the plate, so a lot of sliders, a lot of changeups."
Tonight in Chavez Ravine, it was more of the same from the Dodgers' starter...
Greinke retired the Nationals in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
Michael Taylor worked the count full in a two-on, two-out opportunity in the second, but lined out to a diving Alberto Callaspo at third for out no.3 of a 22-pitch second by Greinke, who was up to 34 total after two.
Yunel Escobar and Ryan Zimmerman singled in the third, but both of them were stranded at the end of an 11-pitch inning that left Greinke at 45 pitches.
Wilson Ramos walked with two out in the fourth, but was stranded when Michael Taylor grounded into a force at second. 19-pitch fourth, 64 total.
Yunel Escobar singled with one out in the fifth, but was stranded two outs later. 22-pitch frame. 86 total.
Given a 5-0 lead to work with, Greinke worked around a leadoff single by Clint Robinson for his sixth scoreless frame vs the Nationals tonight and his 16th straight overall against Washington. 23-pitch inning, 109 overall.
• Zack Greinke's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 109 P, 71 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Bryce Harper was a late scratch with a sore left knee which he banged up on a sliding attempt in right last night.
• The Nationals eight-run output last night gave them eight straight games of four runs or more.
• Ian Desmond's 3 for 4 night in LA in the series opener left him with a .277/.341/.578 line since the All-Star Break.
• Ryan Zimmerman extended his RBI streak to eight-straight games last night, one shy of his own team record of nine-straight games with runs batted in.
• Joe Ross has a 11.75 K/BB ratio through his first seven career starts, which the Nationals note, is the highest K/BB ratio through seven major league starts by any pitcher the "modern era", since 1900.
• The Dodgers loss last night was their fourth-straight, making them the last of MLB's 30 teams to suffer a four-game losing streak this season.
• Zack Greinke's .190 BAA before tonight was MLB's lowest.
• Jimmy Rollins singled in his first at bat last night, giving him hits in 10 of his last 11 games, over which he's 21 for 67, .313 AVG with six doubles, a triple and three home runs.
2. Turning Point(s): Dodgers' left fielder Andre Ethier lined what looked like a double off the bat to left-center in the first at bat of the Dodgers' fourth, but Michael Taylor, misplayed the bounce off the wall after it went over his head, so Ethier went for third. Taylor made a strong throw in and appeared to get the out, but Yunel Escobar didn't actually apply the tag and the original call was overturned upon review. One out later, Yasiel Puig brought Ethier in with a two-run blast on a 1-0 slider up in the zone and LA took a 2-0 lead.
• Joe Ross gave up back-to-back singles in the first two at bats of the Dodgers' fifth, and a two-out, base-loading walk in front of Puig, who came through again with a line drive triple to right that brought in three more runs. 5-0. The walk in front of Puig was the fourth by Ross on the night, after he'd walked four total in 45 IP before taking the mound against the Dodgers.
1. The Wrap-Up: Blake Treinen took over for Joe Ross with Yasiel Puig at third in the bottom of the fifth and recorded the final out of the frame, then came back out for another scoreless inning of work in the sixth.
Yimi Garcia came on for the Dodgers with a 5-0 lead in the seventh and retired the side in order.
Felipe Rivero dialed the heater up to 99 in a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.
Garcia came back out for the eighth, and worked around a leadoff single by Anthony Rendon for another scoreless frame.
Tanner Roark threw a scoreless 14-pitch eighth.
Luis Avilan came on to end it and retired the Nationals in order. Ballgame. 5-0 Dodgers.
Nationals now 58-54