Joe Ross got up to 12.0 scoreless innings to start the season before finally give up a run last time out, in his outing against the St. Louis Cardinals in the nation’s capital, and they didn’t stop coming, with the Cards putting up ten total in 4 1⁄3 IP by Washington’s sinker-baller. He talked after the outing about what went wrong in start No. 3 of his 2021 campaign.
“I just wasn’t really executing my pitches,” the Nationals’ 27-year-old right-hander said.
“Leaving the fastball up and I was getting hit hard, making mistakes. Just got to be better with location and work ahead and stay ahead.”
Ross, who has dealt with injuries over the years (including Tommy John surgery in 2017), and bounced back and forth between the big leagues and the minors, and the bullpen and the rotation, said there was some comfort for him now knowing that he’d earned his spot in the Nationals’ starting mix, so one bad start was not going to change his status.
“Just got to clear it as far as can’t really dwell on not having a good game,” Ross said of the rough outing against the Cardinals.
“And then work on whatever things I felt weren’t really going my way tonight and just kind of move forward,” he said.
“As far as this same situation in the past, I feel like maybe you’re a little harder on yourself knowing that your spot isn’t really secure, but right now I can’t really overthink that, I’ve just kind of got to focus on this next game going forward. I think we’ll be in New York, but just got to throw this one away and be ready for the next game. It’s early in the season and can’t really dwell on that. If I had multiple games like that in a row that would be something else, but it’s one game and was off to a good start, hopefully I can pick that back up.”
Before Ross and the Nationals’ took on the Mets yesterday in Citi Field, his manager Davey Martinez talked about the keys to success for the starter, and what went wrong against the Cardinals.
“The biggest thing was he was up in the strike zone,” Martinez said. “He’s really effective when he’s down with all his pitches, so we told him, ‘Hey, you’re throwing the ball really well.’
“He came out his last outing — in the first inning he threw the ball really well, and then for some unknown reason the ball started getting up on him, so we just want him to focus on keeping the ball down and attacking the strike zone.”
Ross tossed three scoreless on 44 pitches in the second game of the three-game series in NY, and retired nine straight after giving up a two-out single by Pete Alonso in the second, but he left a 2-2 slider up in the zone to Michael Conforto with two out in the fourth, and it bounced off the right field foul pole for a solo homer that got the Mets on the board, down 5-1 at that point.
He stranded two singles that followed Conforto’s homer, and completed four innings on 66 pitches, worked around a two-out single in the fifth, and a leadoff hit-by-pitch in the sixth, and completed six strong on 91 pitches in a nice bounce-back outing in what ended up a 7-1 win.
Joe Ross’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 91 P, 59 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
“Joe was really good,” Martinez said after the Nationals evened things up in the three-game set. “Threw the ball really well. Like I said, when he commands the strike zone and gets the ball down, he’s going to do good, so it’s good to see he bounced back after his last outing.”
“I still had some misses today,” Ross told reporters in a post game Zoom call. “But I feel like the misses were less over the middle of the plate and up, and then more off for balls or whatever. So yeah, just staying down in the zone. Slider wasn’t great today, but it was good in situations I guess where it needed to be. Obviously the one that was a homer was not a very good pitch, I don’t think, but other than that, just keeping the ball down in the zone and just staying aggressive.”
How was he able to move on from the previous outing and turn things around?
“Starting off well probably made that a little bit easier, also it’s one game, so I think one not great game can kind of shake that off.
“If it was 2 or 3 in a row then that would be different, but I think a good start kind of makes it a little bit easier.”