Ross, who’s received 62 runs of support in his four major league starts, didn’t need much help, holding the Mariners to a run on five hits in eight innings.
“That’s the guy I’ve been reading about at Triple-A,” Dusty Baker told reporters after Ross threw 101 pitches total in the start.
“He threw a lot of strikes, minimized his pitches. First time we’ve gone eight just at 100 [pitches] and his velocity stayed up most of the game, his arm slot was what he worked on and he gave us just what we needed.”
Ross’s arm slot, the Nationals explained while he was in Syracuse, had been dropping 4-to-6 inches, decreasing the effectiveness of his sinker and slider, but both pitches were weapons for the right-hander in his return to the majors, and he mixed in a changeup as well, which Baker saw as a positive sign.
“That third pitch is very, very important,” Baker explained, “especially against left-handers.
“Joe was pitching with confidence and conviction, and those runs didn’t hurt at all.”
“That’s the guy that we know,” Baker added, “and so hopefully he’ll use that as a springboard to continue to pitch well and do well.”
Through four starts, Ross is (2-0) with a 5.32 ERA, 5.12 FIP, four walks (1.52 BB/9), 20 Ks (7.61 K/9) and a .269/.302/.522 line against in 23 2⁄3 IP.
Ross takes the mound this afternoon looking to lead the Nationals to a series sweep of the visiting San Diego Padres, the team that drafted the righty in the first round of the 2011 Draft before trading him to Washington in December of 2014.
HERE’S THE NATS’ LINEUP THAT WILL BACK ROSS UP IN TODAY’S GAME:
NOTES: Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Matt Wieters and Daniel Murphy (for the third straight game) are all out of the lineup, and Adam Lind is in left. Talk about a Sunday lineup.