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Nationals’ Joe Ross didn’t have it last night in 11-4 loss to D-backs...

Joe Ross gave up runs early and often in last night’s 11-4 loss to the Diamondbacks...

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Going up against the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium last time out before Saturday’s start, Joe Ross gave up three hits, five walks, and two earned runs in five innings, in which he threw a total of 97 pitches.

Ross, 27, didn’t have his best stuff, by his own, and his manager’s, admission after that start, but he managed to hold a powerful lineup to just two runs.

“Honestly, he was really erratic,” Davey Martinez said, “but when you watch him, he’s falling behind, he had a lot of 3-2 counts today. But it only goes to tell me how good a stuff Joe has. Even though he fell behind, he walked guys, he was able to come back and guys didn’t have very good swings on him. We talked about that when he came out.

“I said, “You know, just know that your stuff is really good, and when you’re ahead, you’re so tough to hit, the ball moves everywhere.’ Next time, I know he did a great job, he kept us in the ballgame, but he’s got to work ahead. He threw a lot of pitches in five-plus innings, so we got to just get him to work ahead.”

“Overall results were I guess pretty good,” Ross said of his start vs the Yankees.

“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.”

“When he’s down he’s really effective, and attacking the strike zone early in the counts, early in the at bats,” Martinez said before Ross’s seventh start of the season last night in Arizona.

“He’s got to go out there and throw strike one and get ahead of hitters, and he becomes really effective. For me it’s just the stuff is good, we talk about it all the time.

“Everything is going in the right direction for him, so it’s just about attacking that strike zone and not falling behind.”

Ross was up in the zone early again in the second of three with the Diamondbacks in Chase Field last night, giving up five hits and three runs in a 24-pitch bottom of the first, after the Nationals jumped out to a lead, 3-1.

It was a 3-2 game in the fourth, when Ross retired two batters on eight pitches, but he hit the next, issued a two-out walk, and gave up a three-run home run on a 3-2 fastball up for Eduardo Escobar, who crushed it, 6-2 D-backs.

Martinez sent him back out to the mound, but a single and walk in the bottom of the fifth ended Ross’s outing, and both runners he left on scored with Sam Clay on the mound in what ended up an 11-4 loss.

Joe Ross’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 86 P, 55 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

“I think they just got the ball up and location, location, location,” Martinez said after the loss.

“With Joe today, Joe was just a little off. I thought his tempo was a little off today as well.

“He tried to battle there. He made a good pitch to Escobar, we didn’t get it, and next pitch was pretty much right down the middle. So, tried to stretch him out for another inning [in the fifth], just to save the bullpen down four, but at that point I saw his velo going down and I just wanted to get him out of there.”

“I mean, obviously not great,” Ross said when asked to assess his outing overall after the game.

“You know, tough first inning there, kind of jumping on everything early in the count. And then I settled in a little bit there in the middle innings, and then fourth inning was just kind of tough, two outs, then hit a guy, walk a guy, home run.

“So overall not obviously my favorite outing of the year, but just got to kind of roll with it and work on some things going into next start.”

“We thought he settled down a little bit,” Martinez said of Ross’s performance in the second and third innings, “but then he hits [Pavin Smith] in the foot, but [Pitching Coach] Jim [Hickey] went out there and tried to settle him down, and like I said, he made some pretty good pitches in that inning, and then one bad pitch he gave up a three-run homer, and then got out of it and at that point we thought, hey, we got to send him back. We got to at least try to hope to get him through five and then we’ll go from there. It just didn’t work out.”

Ross retired the D-backs in order in the second, and worked around two-out single in the third, and he got two quick outs in the fifth before things went all pear-shaped.

What caused things to go awry so quickly?

“I think just a little mental frustration,” Ross said. “Two strikes, try to go fastball in and just yank it. I don’t know, last time I’ve really done that with a heater like that.

“But then yeah, the walk, and I think maybe 0-2 to 3-2, I can’t remember that at bat exactly, but just long AB and a lot of fastballs and caught up to one and hit it out to right field.

“Would have liked to have finished off the leadoff hitter [Pavin] there, but yeah, it is what it is.”

And on the home run by Escobar, which really blew the game open?

“I mean, just kind of keep it up and away, four-seam, I threw some okay ones, but that one I think might have been, I didn’t look at it yet, but just got a little bit too much of the plate, which kind of was the case for a few fastballs today.”

Are there any similarities he’s noted between the starts he’s sharp and the ones he isn’t like last night’s, and his April 19th outing against St. Louis (8 H, 10 ER in 4 13 IP)?

“None that really come to mind right now,” Ross said in his post game Zoom call.

“I mean, that outing actually against the Cardinals I felt pretty good, I felt my velo was up just kind of a similar situation just missing location with some heaters. I don’t think that they were as aggressive that day as they were today ... maybe 15 pitches or so and they had four or five hits already.

“Sometimes it goes your way, you get early ground balls, and fly balls and whatnot and today wasn’t really quite that day.”