clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Nats Nightly: Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker's timely mound visit with Joe Ross

New, 11 comments

Joe Ross ran into trouble early in last night's outing against the New York Mets, but a visit from Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker seemed to focus the 23-year-old righty, who buckled down as the Nats rallied for an 11-4 win.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross was scuffling. He'd already given up eight hits, one walk and four earned runs. Ross received a mound visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux after a base-loading, two-out walk in the second, but when he ran into trouble again in the top of the third, Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker went out to have a talk with his 23-year-old charge.

Why did Baker go to the mound?

"I don't know, I just felt it. 'It's time for me to go,'" the 67-year-old skipper told reporters after what ended up an 11-4 win for the Nats.

"His slider was belt-high. His fastball was belt-high, and I told Ramos, I said, 'Give him a low target,' and if he keeps the ball down it's going to be harder..." -Dusty Baker on his chat with Joe Ross and catcher Wilson Ramos

"I'll go out from time-to-time. I haven't gone out at all this year, but I've gone out quite a few times in the past.

"I just felt that it was -- I asked Mike [Maddux's] permission, 'Can I go out and talk to him?' I don't have to ask, but I just said it was something that I felt I had to say and couldn't wait any longer."

Maybe it was just coincidental, or maybe whatever Baker had to say, or the fact that he was the one who actually came out to the mound, helped, but Ross regained his focus and his command after the visit and retired nine straight.

Mets' catcher Travis d'Arnaud singled to start the sixth and break the streak of retired batters, but he was doubled up in the next at bat and Ross struck Curtis Granderson out in what would end up being the Nationals' starter's last matchup of the night.

So what did Baker say to Ross? And what changed after the visit that allowed Ross to turn things around?

"I just saw a little bit more determination," Baker said.

"I just told him, 'Alright, man, hold the game where it is,' right there and give us a chance to come back.

"He buckled down. Main thing, he was getting a lot of his balls -- they were attacking him up in the first couple pitches, and all those pitches were about belt-high.

"His slider was belt-high. His fastball was belt-high, and I told Ramos, I said, 'Give him a low target,' and if he keeps the ball down it's going to be harder -- because you have to manipulate the bat, you don't have to manipulate the bat when it's belt-high, basically, it's just in your swing plane.

"But Joe buckled down, big-time. He wanted to go further in the game, but we figured that was enough, especially after he had a couple of stressful innings, and we turned it over to our bullpen which did an outstanding job and we got some timely hits and we kept them coming."

Nationals' hitters connected for seventeen hits total on the night and scored eleven unanswered runs, knocking Mets' starter Noah Syndergaard out after just three innings and ending his eight-start, nine-appearance unbeaten streak.

• We talked about Ross vs the Mets; Lucas Giolito coming up and more after the Nationals' win on Nats Nightly: