5. The Other Ross Brother: After back-to-back losses in which he failed make it through the fifth inning, Washington Nationals' starter Joe Ross bounced back with a solid seven-inning outing last time out, in a start in Nationals Park against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 22-year-old, right-handed, former San Diego Padres' first-round pick (2011), acquired in the three-team trade with the Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays this winter, held Brewers' hitters to a run on six hits in what ended up a 6-1 win, improving to (4-5) on the year after ten major league starts in which he's put up a 3.56 ERA, a 3.26 FIP, nine walks (1.34 BB/9) and 58 Ks (8.60 K/9) in 60 ⅔ innings pitched, while holding opposing hitters to a .235/.273/.385 line.
"I thought tonight was the best night he pitched fastball in to the right-handers," Matt Williams told reporters after the win.
"Threw a lot of them, for strikes, and then that opened up the plate for him for his other pitches. Threw some good changeups. He was in command. He kept his pitch count down and that allowed him to get through seven, so I thought he pitched really well."
Attacking right-handers inside, Williams explained, "It's one of his weapons for sure."
"His ball runs and sinks a little bit and... mid-90s fastball. So if he can locate in, if anybody can locate in, they've got an advantage over the hitter for sure."
Tonight in the nation's capital, Ross was taking on the Padres for the first time in his major league career.
His start against the team that drafted him out of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, CA with the 25th pick of the 2011 Draft, began with a quick, 12-pitch, eight-strike, 1-2-3 first.
Justin Upton walked to start the Padres' second, but was stranded at first three outs later as Ross completed a 15-pitch second that left him at 27 total after two. An eight-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Ross at 35 pitches.
Cory Spangenberg bunted his way on and took two bases on a throwing error by Wilson Ramos, who fired a throw by first and into foul territory in right. Yangervis Solarte's sac fly in the next at bat made it 1-0 Padres. 17-pitch frame, 52 total.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Ross at 64 pitches. Given a 2-1 lead to work with in the bottom of the inning, Ross came back out with a dominant, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that pushed him up to 77 pitches.
• Joe Ross' Line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 77 P, 48 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
4. Cashner Rules Everything Around Me: The Nationals scored four runs, three earned, in six innings of work on the mound against Padres' starter Andrew Cashner when Washington visited San Diego's Petco Park back in mid-May.
Cashner threw a total of 108 pitches in that start, a 4-1 loss, after which former Padres' skipper Bud Black talked about the Nationals' ability to string together hits making the difference that day.
"They got a bunch of singles," he said.
"Sort of bunched them together. That's what happens. You bunch hits together, a bunch of singles got him. Couldn't quite get one of those grounders to get to somebody for a double play ball to get us out of there, but, you know, he hung in there for six."
Since the Nationals last saw him, the 28-year-old right-hander has gone (4-5) in sixteen starts, with a 4.44 ERA and a .270/.329/.425 line against in 95 ⅓ innings pitched, leaving Cashner (5-12) on the year with a 4.03 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 45 walks (2.79 BB/9) and 124 Ks (7.68 K/9) in 145 ⅓ innings pitched, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .263/.325/.431 line.
He was coming off a win over the St. Louis Cardinals in which he gave up just four hits and one unearned run in six innings when he took the mound tonight in the nation's capital.
Cashner's 25th start of the year began with two quick outs before Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar hit back-to-back singles. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and two out and lined one to center that Melvin Upton, Jr. caught over his shoulder while facing the center field wall. 25-pitch first.
The Nationals went down in order in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Cashner at 36 total after two.
Jayson Werth hit an opposite field single to right field with one down in the Nationals' half of the third, but was hung up and tagged out on an Anthony Rendon liner to center when Melvin Upton, Jr. trapped the ball and the umpires were slow to call it a catch/hit. Bryce Harper took a two-out walk to put two on for Yunel Escobar, who lined out to right to end a 25-pitch frame. 61 total for Cashner.
Ian Desmond hit a single to right with one out in the bottom of the fourth, took second on a wild pitch that got away from Padres' catcher Austin Hedges and third on a groundout to short by Wilson Ramos, but he was stranded there when Joe Ross grounded out after an intentional walk to Michael Taylor. 21-pitch frame. 82 total.
Jayson Werth walked, Anthony Rendon singled to right and Bryce Harper singled to left to load the bases with no one out in the bottom of the fifth and Yunel Escobar took a fastball on the hand to force in a run. 1-1.
Ryan Zimmerman stepped in next and sent an RBI single to center to make it 2-1 Nationals before Harper was thrown out trying to score. 2-1. Ian Desmond grounded into an out at second, but took second base to put two runners in scoring position for Wilson Ramos, who K'd looking to end the threat. 25-pitch inning, 107 total for Cashner.
Cashner came back out for the sixth and retired the first two batters he faced before he gave up a solo home run to left field by Jayson Werth. 3-1 Nationals. Anthony Rendon's single in the next at bat ended Cashner's night.
• Andrew Cashner's Line: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 121 P, 74 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Nationals took three of four from the Padres in Petco Park in May, so their win in the series opener on Tuesday gave them the season series, but a win tonight for San Diego would give them their first series win over Washington since May 27-29, 2011.
• Matt Kemp extended his on-base streak to 17-straight games last night, leaving him 23 for 68 over that stretch with a .338/.382/.574 line in his last 17 games.
• For today's Padres-centric "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Kemp has a .306/.366/.522 line, six doubles, a triple and seven home runs since July 17th.
• When both Matt Kemp and Justin Upton collect an RBI in a game, the Padres are 22-2 this season.
• When the Padres lead after eight, they're 51-0 in 2015, and they're 114-1 when leading after eighth in the last two seasons.
• For today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points"/Ian Desmond update: Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond is 37 for 125 (.296/.358/.544) with five doubles, a triple, eight home runs, 12 walks and six stolen bases since July 20th.
• Going into tonight's game, Bryce Harper leads the NL in OBP, SLG, fWAR and HRs, and he's second in AVG.
• Joe Ross has avoided allowing any walks in 4 of 10 starts this season, and he's held right-handed batters to a .190 AVG so far this year... Left-handed batters? .293 AVG.
2. Turning Point(s): Joe Ross threw three scoreless and hitless, walking just one batter to give the Padres their only base runner through three, but San Diego second baseman Cory Spangenberg bunted for a hit in the first at bat of the fourth, and took third when Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos rushed a throw and sent it by Ryan Zimmerman at first and into foul territory in right. A sac fly by Yangervis Solarte gave the visiting team a 1-0 lead.
• A leadoff walk by Jayson Werth and a pair of opposite field singles by Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper loaded the bases with no one out in the Nationals' fifth before a HBP on Yunel Escobar's left hand forced in a run, 1-1. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in next and sent an RBI single to center to bring Rendon in, 2-1, but Harper was thrown out at the plate.
• A two-out solo home run by Jayson Werth in the sixth gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead.
1. The Wrap-Up: Padres' righty Bud Norris came on with a runner on and two out in the sixth. Bryce Harper stepped in against the veteran hurler and was hit with a pitch. Danny Espinosa K'd swinging to end the frame. 3-1 game.
Casey Janssen struck the first two batters he faced out in the Padres' seventh before Melvin Upton, Jr. hit a long fly ball to center field that Michael Taylor tracked to the center field wall. Taylor hit the wall hard and had a hard time getting off the field. Jedd Gyorko hit a sharp grounder toward third in the next at bat, but Anthony Rendon made a diving play and strong throw to end the inning. Still 3-1 Nats.
Kevin Quackenbush gave up an opposite field solo home run to right by Ryan Zimmerman on the first pitch of the Nationals' seventh, 4-1.
Drew Storen threw a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth. Kevin Quackenbush threw a scoreless bottom of the inning.
Jonathan Papelbon came on for the save and issued a leadoff walk to Cory Spangenberg, who was balked into scoring position. Yangervis Solarte sent a fly to center for out no.1. ONE! Justin Upton K'd swinging at a 3-2 bender for out no.2. TWO! Yonder Alonso singled to center to make it 4-2 Nationals. But Melvin Upton, Jr.'s groundout to second ended the game. 4-2 Nationals.
Nationals now 64-62