5. No pressure, Joe: Joe Ross, 22, took the mound this afternoon trying to help the Washington Nationals avoid getting swept in their four-game set in AT&T Park. A loss would be their sixth straight going back to the final two games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles earlier this week.
Ross took the loss in the second game of the Nats' three-game set in Chavez Ravine, giving up six hits, four walks and five runs in 4 ⅔ innings pitched.
It was the shortest outing of the season for the rookie right-hander, who debuted in the majors in June and returned to the rotation in the third week of July.
"I think his command with his backdoor breaking ball wasn't as sharp and got him in some behind-in-the-count counts," Matt Williams said after the 5-0 loss in LA.
"But he made adjustments when he needed to and again, he went out there and gave us a chance again, so I like the way he's going about it."
Through eight starts before this afternoon's, Ross was (3-4) on the year with a 3.44 ERA, a 3.09 FIP, eight walks (1.45 BB/9) and 48 Ks (8.70 K/9) in 49 ⅔ IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .226/.269/.364 line.
"He throws strikes with three and four pitches," Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN's Grant Paulsen this week. "He's got a great repertoire of pitches. He's got good stuff to go along with good command and doesn't get rattled very easily and is not afraid to get major league hitters out on the white part of the plate which is key to the progression of going from the minor leagues to the majors leagues."
His first career start against the Giants today began with a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 first in which he struck out the side. He set the side down in order again in the second, in a 12-pitch frame that left him at 26 total after two.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Ross at 35 pitches.
Gregor Blanco sent a single through the right side of the infield for the first hit off the Nats' starter in the first at bat of the Giants' fourth, and he tagged and took second on a fly to deep center by Matt Duffy before scoring on a double to left by Brandon Belt. 1-0 Giants. One out later, Hunter Pence crushed a 2-2 slider and sent a two-out, two-run home run to left to make it 3-0. 20-pitch frame. 55 total.
Kelby Tomlinson reached first on an infield single in the Giants' fifth and scored when Madison Bumgarner doubled to right on a 2-1 sinker in the next at bat. 4-0 San Francisco. Gregor Blanco took a walk on the 15th pitch of the inning from Ross, and Matt Williams went to the bullpen.
• Joe Ross' Line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 70 P, 47 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
4. Bumgarner's Revenge?: The Washington Nationals jumped on Madison Bumgarner early and scored six runs on eight hits in five innings the last time they faced the San Francisco Giants' lefty, on July 4th in the nation's capital in a 9-3 win Nats' win.
Michael Taylor hit a home run on the first pitch from Bumgarner, Yunel Escobar followed with a double and then Bryce Harper hit a 1-1 fastball to right for a two-run home run that made it 3-0 before an out was recorded in the home-half of the frame.
Since that outing, the 26-year-old southpaw has won five of six starts, putting up a 2.63 ERA, five walks (1.10 BB/9) and 46 Ks (10.10 K/9) in 41 innings, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .242/.274/.376 line.
So how were they able to get to Bumgarner, who was clearly not sharp at the start of a game that began at 11:05 AM EDT in D.C.
"The first inning we hit fastballs," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said. "Michael hit a first-pitch fastball. Yunel hit a first-pitch fastball. [Harper] got a fastball that was in and was able to get a hold of it too.
"As the game went on he settled in and put the ball where he wanted to, but it's important for us to get good pitches to hit and hit them and we were able to do that in the first inning today."
Bumgarner took the mound this afternoon (13-6) on the year with a 3.15 ERA, a 3.01 FIP, 26 walks (1.52 BB/9) and 160 Ks (9.33 K/9) in 154 ⅓ IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .236/.277/.376 line.
His second start of the year against the Nationals began with an 18-pitch, 1-2-3 first in which he struck out the side.
Justin Maxwell robbed Yunel Escobar with a diving catch on a line drive to left in the first at bat of the second and Bumgarner got the next two outs for a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left him at 26 pitches.
Jayson Werth walked to start the third, and took second one out later on a sac bunt by Joe Ross, but he was stranded there when Michael Taylor K'd swinging to end a 14-pitch frame. 40 total.
Bumgarner added two Ks for seven total in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 52 pitches.
With the score 3-0 Giants after four, Bumgarner gave up the first hit of the game on a single through short by Ian Desmond, who promptly stole second after he was almost picked off. But Desmond was stranded there two outs later, as Bumgarner completed his fifth scoreless frame. 13-pitch inning, 65 total.
Bumgarner added two Ks for nine total in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that pushed him up to 73 pitches.
A 14-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh left Bumgarner at 87 pitches.
After hitting a two-out home run in the home-half of the seventh, Bumgarner came back out and struck out the side around a two-out single by Wilson Ramos in an 11-pitch frame. 12 Ks, 98 pitches.
Bumgarner came back out for the ninth worked around a one-out single by Anthony Rendon for the complete game.
• Madison Bumgarner's Line: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 Ks, 112 P, 76 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: With last night's win, the San Francisco Giants took four of the first five games on their six-game homestand and three-straight against the Nationals, improving to 34-24 overall in AT&T Park this season.
• A win today would give the Giants their first four-game sweep of the Nationals and the first sweep against the Nats' franchise since they beat the Montreal Expos in four-straight back in May of 1971.
• Matt Duffy's three-RBI night in last night's 12-6 win gave him eight RBIs in the first three games of the series.
• As a leadoff man this season, Giants' outfielder Gregor Blanco is 27 for 68 (.397 AVG) with a .468 OBP in the 17 games he's spent in the leadoff spot.
• Ian Desmond's 447-foot home run last night was his 15th of the season and his eighth in the last 25 games, over which he's put up a .300/.370/.600 line.
• Bryce Harper left last night's game in the seventh after fouling a pitch off his ankle, but he was listed in the starting lineup this afternoon for the series finale in San Francisco. Harper enters today's game as the MLB-leader in OBP (.456) and SLG (.644).
2. Turning Point(s): Gregor Blanco improved to 8 for 15 two at bats into the fourth game of this season when he sent an 0-1 slider from Nationals' starter Joe Ross through the right side of the infield for the Giants' first hit of the game in the first at bat of the fourth. Blanco aggressively tagged and took second on a fly to center by Matt Duffy in the next at bat, then scored when Brandon Belt lined an 0-1 slider to left for an RBI double that made it 1-0 early in the series finale in AT&T. One out later, Hunter Pence threw his bat at a 2-2 slider and sent a two-run homer to left for a 3-0 lead.
1. The Wrap-Up: Blake Treinen inherited a runner on first when he took over for Joe Ross in the fifth, and he got two quick outs on a double play grounder from Matt Duffy before popping up Brandon Belt. Three pitches, three outs.
• Treinen came back out in the sixth and retired the side in order on 13 pitches. 16 total.
Casey Jansen got two quick outs in the Giants' seventh, but hung a 1-1 slider up for Madison Bumgarner, who hit a solo shot to left to make it 5-0 San Francisco.
Matt Thornton retired the Giants in order in the home-half of the eighth, but Bumgarner came back out for the complete game. 5-0 Giants final.
Nationals now 58-59