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Washington Nationals’ Joe Ross hit by comebacker; leaves opener in Pittsburgh...

Joe Ross looked sharp early in PNC Park, but a 110 MPH one-hopper off his shin ended his outing in the fourth.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Going into last night’s game, Joe Ross was riding a three-start win streak, over which he gave up just one run in 18 innings (0.50 ERA), prompting a lot of discussion about some changes the 26-year-old right-hander made that seem to have turned things around after he struggled out of the gate this season.

“I’ve been working with [Pitching Coach] Paul Menhart a lot — about kind of just picking up the pace of my delivery and getting my knee up,” Ross told MASN’s Dan Kolko and Bo Porter after giving up a run on five hits in 6 23 IP against the Cincinnati Reds last week, “... and it’s kind of helped overall with, I guess, repeating my delivery, and the late action on my pitches, especially my sinker, so I think that coming together, staying down in the zone, and then throwing my offspeed off of that, it’s kind of all come together the last three games.”

“Paul has been great,” Davey Martinez said.

“He’s been great with all of them. He really has. His communication skills with those guys, and talking to them and being positive with them, has helped them a lot.”

“A lot of credit goes to Joe for not throwing in the towel when we sent him back to the minors,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.

“He worked on his craft. And a lot of credit goes to our major league pitching coach in Paul Menhart, who had been with Joe through his minor league days as our minor league coordinator, they went back to the film room, they looked at some old video of Joe, how he was pre-injury, and kind of made some tweaks to his delivery. Paul kind of adjusted where he stands on the rubber pre-pitch and post-pitch, and his alignment and arm angle and that type of thing, and we wanted Joe to go back to being the athlete that Joe Ross is on the mound, and utilizing his athleticism, so higher leg kick, utilizing his lower body more, and now it’s coming out 95-96, down in the zone with movement. They adapted a slower curve ball to go with his hard fastball, hard slider combination, and I think with Joe and with Erick Fedde that you’re seeing guys that are on the rise and guys that we thought they were going to be when we drafted and traded for them.”

Ross retired eight straight batters to start his outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park, taking the mound in the third with an 8-0 lead, and working around a two-out single for three scoreless on 47 pitches.

With one out in the Pirates’ fourth, after a leadoff double, Ross took a 110 MPH one-hopper back to the mound off of his right shin, and after a long talk with Nats’ trainer Paul Lessard and skipper Davey Martinez, the righty left the mound...

Joe Ross’s Line: 3.1 IP, 3 H 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 58 P, 38 S, 4/2 GO/FO.

Javy Guerra (3 23 scoreless/hitless), Kyle McGowin, and Tanner Rainey completed the Nats’ combined shutout of the Pirates, 13-0, but with the run Ross has been on, losing him to an injury at this point would be disappointing.

“He got hit with a 110 MPH ball, so he was hurting,” Martinez told reporters after the win over the Pirates.

“We wanted to bring him in and get him checked out. He had X-rays, they were negative, so he’s just got a contusion. I’m just assuming that he’s going to be real sore tomorrow. I talked to him now, and he said he’ll be fine, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Martinez confirmed that it did catch Ross on the shin, as opposed to the kneecap or any other part of the leg, but wherever you get hit with a 110 MPH comebacker, it’s not good.

“He gets hit in the kneecap like that, 110 MPH, we’ll probably have issues,” Martinez added.

“When you get hit with a 110 MPH ball off the bat, nowhere in your body is going to feel good.”