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Washington Nationals and New York Yankees play five before rain, 8-2 NY final: Joe Ross is solid in 2020 debut

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Joe Ross got his work in, the Nationals played some sloppy defense, and the Yankees took advantage of the mistakes...

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross’s 2020 Grapefruit League debut started with an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first, in which he got line drive or fly ball outs from the three New York Yankees’ hitters he faced.

Ross, 26, came into Spring Training as one of three Washington Nationals’ starters with a legit shot at the fifth spot in the Nats’ rotation, along with Erick Fedde and Austin Voth.

Ross took the mound in the second inning with a 2-0 lead, courtesy of his catcher, Raudy Read (see below) and tossed another 1-2-3 frame, finishing his outing with 23 pitches and six batters retired in an efficient initial appearance of the Spring.

Ross looked sharp though it was hard to get a read since it was so brief an outing, but the short(er) arm action that Davey Martinez mentioned earlier this month was noticeable in what ended up an 8-2 loss to the Yanks.

Raudy Raudy Read: Raudy Read, whose name has gotten pro wrestling mentions from the opposing announce teams in each of the last two games, crushed a 1-0 splitter from NY’s Masahiro Tanaka in the top of the second inning this afternoon, hitting a two-run blast out to left in George M. Steinbrenner Field to put the Nationals up 2-0 early in this afternoon’s matchup.

The shot by Read came an at bat after Tanaka hit Carter Kieboom on the left hand/wrist with a two-seam fastball inside, which luckily didn’t seem to do serious damage...

Bullpen: Reliever David Hernandez was the first pitcher out of the pen for the defending World Series champions this afternoon, taking the mound in the third with a 2-0 lead.

Hernandez, 34, is one of the non-roster invitees in camp with the Nats, hoping to extend a 10-year major league career.

It didn’t start well for the hard-throwing right-hander, who gave up a leadoff single and a walk to the first two batters he faced. Carter Kieboom airmailed a throw to first on a slow chopper toward short in the next at bat too, with two runs coming in on the error, and the double to left-center by DJ LeMahieu that followed put the Yankees on top, 3-2. before an out was recorded in the inning. A walk to to Gleyber Torres in the at bat after the double ended Hernandez’s outing.

Ryne Harper, acquired from the Twins this winter, took over on the mound with two on and no one out and hit the first batter he faced Brett Gardner, loading the bases, and a real odd decision by Victor Robles on a sac fly to center by Gary Sanchez allowed two runs in. After catching the fly, Robles pumped once, then threw well over third base, and over the third base dugout, allowing a second run to score, 5-2, and a wild pitch by Harper followed, 6-2, before the Nationals got out of the frame.

Tanner Rainey issued a leadoff walk to the first batter he faced in the fourth, putting Mike Ford on in front of Clint Frazier, who doubled to left field on a hanging breaking ball to put two runners on with no one out, and a second walk by the Nationals’ right-hander (to Eric Kratz) loaded the bases.

LeMahieu, who was 10 for 15 (.667/.611/.867) with the bases loaded in 2019, K’d swinging for the first out of the frame, but Gleyber Torres lined out to left field for a sac fly that made it 7-2 NY, and it was 8-2 after an RBI single by Estevan Florial. 25-pitch frame for Rainey.

Javy Guerra got the fifth for the Nationals, and the veteran right-hander worked in a driving rain, giving up a leadoff single, double, and base-loading one-out walk that gave the Yanks an opportunity to add to their six-run lead which they failed to do before the rain came and led to a delay...