Dusty Baker talked before Joe Ross started against the Miami Marlins last week, in his 2016 debut, about the 22-year-old right-hander having an advantage over hitters at this point in his career, since many of them still have not seen him live as he makes his way around the league for the first time in his second major league season.
"I think that advantage goes to the young pitcher until they know him," the one-time major leaguer-turned-manager explained..
"I mean, you can see the velocity, you can see he has a slider and a split finger, but until you actually see the movement on it and the sharpness of it, it's tough to simulate in the video room."
In his first career start against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight, Ross, who worked out of trouble early against the Fish and was "masterful" after that, in Baker's assessment, took the mound with a 5-0 lead, courtesy of Nats' center fielder Michael Taylor, who hit a 1-0 slider from Jeremy Hellickson to left on a line for a leadoff home run, and Jayson Werth, who hit a bases-loaded double to left-center, clearing the bases before scoring on a two-out RBI single to center field by Danny Espinosa.
Jayson Werth doubled again in the third inning, and scored on an error by Phillies' third baseman Mikail Franco on a hard-hit grounder by third by Wilson Ramos, 6-0.
Ross cruised through the first two innings, but a one-out error and back-to-back, two-out walk loaded the bases in the Phillies' third before the right-hander got a grounder to short from Mikail Franco to bring a 32-pitch frame to an end.
Daniel Murphy doubled off the base of the wall in right and scored on an RBI single by Danny Espinosa to make it 7-0 in the fifth.
Bryce Harper crushed a hanging bender from Brett Oberholtzer in the sixth, hitting a towering two-run blast to right to make it 9-0 with his 101st career home run.
Joe Ross was up to 93 pitches after he retired the Phillies in order in his seventh scoreless frame, and he came back out for the eighth, retiring two batters before a two-out single by Odubel Herrera ended his night.
Joe Ross's Line: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 107 P, 71 S, 8/5 GO/FO.
Yusmeiro Petit handled the last out of the eighth and the ninth, giving up a home run by Ryan Howard, but nothing else as the Nationals wrapped up a 9-1 win.
Nationals now 8-1
- In today's Nationals-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points segment: The Nationals were 12-7 against the Phillies in 2015, leaving them 51-42 against Philadelphia... since 2011.
- From 2005-2010, Washington was 39-71 against the NL East rivals.
- Washington's 7-1 record is the best start in franchise history since the Montreal Expos started 7-1 in 1974, and the best by a D.C.- based team since the 1951 Washington Senators started 7-1 as well.
- Murphy's start: Daniel Murphy has reached base safely in 18 of his first 31 plate appearances with the Nationals after he signed a 3-year/$37.5M free agent deal this winter.
- Jayson Werth hit his 199th career home run on Thursday, 61 of them in Citizens Bank Park, where he spent four years with the Phillies before signing his 7-year/$126M deal with the Nationals.
- The Nationals start tonight's game tied for the NL lead with six stolen bases as a team.
- Joe Ross didn't face the Phillies last season, so he's facing the Nationals' divisional rivals for the first time tonight.
- The Nationals took the first two road games of 2016 in Atlanta last week. Dusty Baker talked after the Nationals' win over the Braves in D.C. yesterday about the importance of beating their NL East opponents. "This is a tough road trip we've got coming up," he said. "I mean, the Phillies are back to 5-5 now, they're at home. "Then we go to Miami. When you play at home, you think that you're supposed to win at home. That's what people think. And most of our games have been at home. So, it depends on how we play now on the road."
- Washington was 46-35 at home last season, and 37-44 on the road.
- Phillies' starters began their three-game set with the Nationals with a major league-best combined 2.14 ERA (15 ER in 63 IP). That staff ERA took a hit in a 45-pitch, five-run first by Jeremy Hellickson.
- The Phillies had lost their last three home games against the Nats in Citizens Bank Park and six of their last seven in CBP. Make that last four and 7 of 8.
Nationals now 8-1