With the exception of one rough outing (in which he gave up eight hits, three walks, and 10 runs in 4 1⁄3 innings pitched), Joe Ross has been a solid performer in the Nationals’ rotation this season, with 16 hits and three runs allowed in 22 1⁄3 IP in his other four appearances (for a 4.39 ERA and 5.68 FIP on the year) before Sunday’s start against the New York Yankees.
The last start before his turn in the rotation in the series finale with the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, was a 5 1⁄3-inning appearance at home against Atlanta which saw the 27-year-old righty give up five hits, two walks, and two earned runs in what ended up a 6-1 loss to the Braves.
“I wouldn’t say I had my best stuff really by any means,” Ross said of the outing against the Nationals’ NL East rivals.
“I don’t know. Location wise definitely not, but they made some really good plays, so kind of kept me in there for a little ... stayed close their till the end, but kind of got blown up in the sixth.”
“Felt like I was searching a little bit there towards the middle of the outing, but had to figure it out, and got to figure it out for my next start, and see what I can do to get back on track a little bit.”
Walks hurt Ross early on Sunday, as he worked around free passes in the first two innings, before leadoff and one-out walks in the bottom of the fourth led to the home team’s first run.
Brett Gardner, who took the first of two free passes, scored from second on a one-out RBI single by Aaron Hicks to make it 1-0 Yankees after three.
Ross gave up just one hit through four, and worked around DJ LeMahieu’s one-out single in the fifth, but Gleyber Torres hit a solo shot to left-center on a 2-0 sinker up in the zone in the first at bat of the sixth, 2-0, and the fifth walk of the game by the Nationals’ starter in the next at bat ended his outing...
Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 97 P, 53 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
The Nationals tied things up at 2-2 on a two-run shot by Kyle Schwarber in the seventh, but lost it in the ninth when Brad Hand struggled again, and the Yankees walked off on a single by Giancarlo Stanton.
“Overall results were I guess pretty good,” Ross said when asked to assess his outing.
“But just getting behind, wasting way too many pitches, a lot of 3-2 counts, I feel like when I’m at my best, I’m kind of getting ahead, making it short ABs for four or five pitches, and just trying to attack the zone, but I was missing high a lot with the fastball and kind of had to battle out of some situations with runners on.”
Joe Ross, 94mph Sinker (called strike) & 86mph Slider (swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/Tb2ZnNAwJC— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 9, 2021
“He was just missing,” manager Davey Martinez said after the loss.
“When he’s down he’s good. His slider was a little off today, but he made some decent ones when he needed to. But when he’s really effective, his ball is down, it’s moving in-out, today he wasn’t there, but like I said, his stuff is really good, his fastball was moving all over that he still was able to get outs.”
Considering that neither the manager or starter believed he had his best stuff, was the fact that Ross was able to limit the damage to two runs in five-plus inning a positive sign?
“It was absolutely great,’ Martinez said. “... and especially for him too, knowing that, ‘Hey, I can get through this. My stuff wasn’t great today, but I can get through it.’ And he gave us everything he had.”
“Yeah, I mean, like I said,” Ross agreed, “I felt like as far as the runs allowed — I think had five walks, maybe, so it was good to kind of work out of jams and stuff like that, but I kind of dug myself into a hole in the third inning I think it was, leadoff walk and then another walk to Stanton, but overall I felt good and just kind of have to pick the few things that I think I did well out and carry that into the next outing.”