Before this afternoon's start in the Sunday matinee with the Miami Marlins, Joe Ross had not taken the mound for the Washington Nationals in competitive action since April 2nd, when the 22-year-old righty gave up twelve hits and eight runs in five innings of work against the Minnesota Twins.
Nats' skipper Dusty Baker told reporters this morning that the weather played a role in keeping Ross off the mound until today.
"He got rained out like two or three times in a row," Baker said, referring to some missed starts at the end of Spring Training.
"I'm hoping that he pitches with his mind instead of really his body, because he hasn't been out there that much to repeat his delivery."
Ross struggled to throw strikes and got into trouble early, giving up a leadoff triple by Dee Gordon and then issuing a one-out walk to Christian Yelich in front of Giancarlo Stanton, before the Marlins' slugger hit a full-count slider to left field for an RBI single that made it 1-0 Fish early.
Bryce Harper, who absolutely crushes Tom Koehler (7 for 24, 5 HRs, .292/.346/.917), tied things up in the bottom of the first, however, doubling off the fencing in front of the left field bullpen to drive Anthony Rendon in from first, 1-1.
Ross and Koehler both settled in nicely after the first, keeping it tied at 1-1 through six and a half...
Joe Ross's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 97 P, 57 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Anthony Rendon was 3 for 4 when he lined a single to right off Koehler in the seventh and he hustled around to third on a one-out double to left by Bryce Harper, who crushed an 0-1 cutter from left-handed reliever Chris Narveson.
With runners on second and third, the Marlins walked Daniel Murphy and brought Edwin Jackson on to face Jayson Werth, who fell behind 0-2 quickly, battled back to 2-2 and dumped an RBI single into short right to make it 2-1.
Clint Robinson, who got the start at first today, followed with a two-run single to right that put the Nationals up 4-1.
Blake Treinen retired the Marlins in order in a nine-pitch eighth and Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and earned the save (3)... after giving up a solo home run to right by Christian Yelich on an 88 mph 3-1 fastball.
Final Score: 4-2 Nationals.
Nationals now 3-1
• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: The Nationals are 37-21 against the Marlins since 2013 after going 10-9 against the Fish last season. And the Nationals are 46-30 against the Marlins since the Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins in 2012.
• Heading into today's game, Daniel Murphy had reached base safely in seven of his first fourteen plate appearances with the Nationals after signing a 3-year/$37.5M deal with Washington this winter.
• Joe Ross faced the Marlins twice last season, in relief appearances, but this afternoon's outing was his first start against the Nationals' NL East rivals.
Dusty Baker told reporters before today's game, that he thought it was to his pitcher's advantage that Miami's hitters hadn't seen much of him yet.
"I think the advantage is to the young pitcher," he explained. "Now once the word gets around or once you see a guy and you see his pattern, then it depends on how he adjusts the second and third and fourth and fifth time around."
Ross settled in nicely after a shaky first,
• Bryce Harper entered today's game one home run shy of 100 career homers and two doubles shy of 100 two-base hits for his career.
He'll be the third player in franchise history (2005-present) to hit 100 home runs when/if he gets his next one, joining Ryan Zimmerman (200) and Ian Desmond (110).
He'll be the sixth player with 100 career doubles (joining Zimmerman, Desmond, Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa and Nick Johnson) on that list, when/if he hits his 100th double.
Harper started the day 7 for 24 with five home runs off Marlins' starter Tom Koehler, three of them in one game last May...
He hit double No. 99 of his career in the first, driving a 2-1 curve to left field and off the fence in front of the visitor's bullpen to tie things up at 1-1 after the Nationals fell behind early.
He joined the 100 double club when he lined a two-base hit to left field in the seventh inning.
• The Marlins started the day with four players who have hit safely in each of the first three games: Justin Bour, Martin Prado, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.
Stanton singled in the first. Prado tripled in the fourth. Yelich walked twice, then homered in the ninth.
• Miami's win in the homer opener for Washington on Thursday was the Marlins' first win in the first road game of the season since 2011.
• Miami was just 3-7 in Nationals Park last season, and in today's Marlins-themed Fun With Arbitrary End Points segment: The Marlins are just 6-13 in the nation's capital since 2014.
• The Marlins haven't had a winning record for the season in Nationals Park since 2011.
• Clint Robinson got the start this afternoon at first, with Ryan Zimmerman getting the day off. He ended up coming up big with a two-run single in the seventh that followed a tie-breaking hit by Jayson Werth as a 1-1 game turned into a 4-1 Nationals' lead in a hurry.
Nationals now 3-1