Joe Ross was up to ten straight batters set down to start the Spring before Miami Marlins’ outfielder Matt Joyce singled with one out in the second inning this afternoon, but Joyce was caught stealing one out later, and Ross worked around a leadoff walk in the third and final inning of work for the Washington Nationals’ 26-year-old right-hander in what ended up being a 3-2 walk-off win.
Ross tossed two scoreless on 23 pitches in his 2020 Grapefruit League debut last week, impressing in his first outing as he competes for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation.
As he told reporters after his initial start this Spring, however, his focus was on the task at hand as opposed to the bigger picture once he started to throw.
“Once you get out on the field, that’s the last thing I’m thinking about,” Ross said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“You just go out there and try to execute pitches and efficiently get through your outing. I feel like I did that today. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the Spring. I’m excited just to get the season started.”
He’s got two solid starts under his belt now, with this afternoon’s 43-pitch, 26-strike outing another to build on as he progresses towards Opening Day.
Huddy’s Turn: Daniel Hudson made his 2020 debut in the top of the fourth this afternoon in West Palm Beach. Hudson, who came over from the Toronto Blue Jays last July, helped win a World Series title, then returned to D.C. on a 2-year/$11M deal after testing free agency, took the mound with a 1-0 lead, and gave up a leadoff single by Jonathan Villar, and a well-struck, line drive double to left by Brian Anderson, then had both runners score, Villar on a ground ball out by Corey Dickerson, and Anderson on an RBI single by Jesús Aguilar, 2-1 Fish.
Just a Little Patience, Yeah: Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga included an anecdote in a recent article about Howie Kendrick giving Juan Soto guff after the 22-year-old phenom walked in a four-pitch at bat with a runner on third base earlier this Spring:
“Hey, man,” Howie Kendrick said to him back in the dugout. “You don’t like steaks?”
A steak, in dugout parlance, is an RBI. (RBI = rib-eye. Get it?) Soto knew exactly what Kendrick was asking.
“I like them,” Soto responded. “But they weren’t strikes.”
Word. If Soto does not swing, it was not a strike. If it’s not a strike, Soto doesn’t swing. Got it?
Soto, who has a .403 OBP through two seasons in the majors, is, the WaPost writer noted, one of only five players to post an OBP over .400 in the last two seasons, along with Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts, and Alex Bregman. So, keep doing Soto things, Juan.
Sanchie or Sanchy?: Adrián Sanchez unloaded on a 97 MPH 3-1 fastball from the 21-year-old Marlins’ prospect Edward Cabrera in the bottom of the fifth inning, hitting a no-doubter out to left and tying things up at 2-2.
Bullpen Action: Wander Suero followed Daniel Hudson on the mound, working around a walk in a scoreless fifth, and Javy Guerra retired the Marlins in order in the top of the sixth.
Fernando Abad came on with the score still tied at 2-2 in the top of the seventh, and the left-hander retired the Marlins in order.
Two-way player JB Shuck got the call for the Nationals in the top of the eighth, and the veteran struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 frame.
Drew Ward and Jake Noll took back-to-back one-out walks from Marlins’ pitcher Humberto Mejia in the bottom of the eighth, but both runners were stranded two outs later, leaving it at 2-2 after eight.
Kevin Quackenbush kept it tied with a scoreless top of the ninth, and Cody Wilson (a 2018 13th Round pick out of Florida Atlantic University, doubled to start the bottom of the ninth and moved to third on a sac bunt by Luis Garcia. Brandon Snyder walked to put runners on the corners with one out, but Emilio Bonifacio tried to get a suicide squeeze down and did. not. do. it. leaving Wilson in a rundown between third and home which he did not escape.
Bonifacio stayed calm, however, and lined a single to center to bring Snyder in and give the Nationals a walk-off win. 3-2 final.