They played three and a half of this one last night, before rain forced the suspension of play, but the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds picked up the action this afternoon, and the Nats, who were leading 3-0, added a couple runs and finished up a 5-3 win, setting up a rubber match in tonight’s series finale (7:05 PM ET, seven-inning game).
Ross vs the Reds: Since he put together scoreless outings in back-to-back starts to kick off the 2021 campaign, Joe Ross has been decidedly up and down. Ross has put up a 7.94 ERA over his last six starts and 28 1⁄3 IP, with opposing hitters putting up a .298/.396/.561 line in those appearances, the last of which was a 3 2⁄3-inning outing against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field which saw him give up five hits, a walk, and four runs, two earned, throwing a total of 78 pitches before the Nationals went to the pen.
Ross said he was happy with his stuff overall against the Cubs, but struggled to put hitters away.
“Kind of similar to last game,” Ross said, “a couple innings there with two quick outs and then ... kind of one pitch away, guy gets on, runner gets on, runner gets over, and then ends up scoring.”
Tonight in Nationals Park, going up against the Reds, Ross stranded two runners in the top of the first inning, after giving up a one-out single by Jesse Winker, and a two-out free pass to Tyler Naquin.
He took the mound in the second with a 2-0 lead, and gave up back-to-back, one-out hits, by Kyle Farmer and Jonathan India, but cut down the lead runner at third on a bunt in front of the plate by the opposing pitcher for out No. 2, and then got a groundout from Eugenio Suárez to strand two more.
Ross retired the Reds in order in an 11-pitch fourth, then again in a 17-pitch fourth, giving him eight straight outs, but his start ended there when the skies opened up over the park, sending the game into a delay...
Don't go on the field at #Nationals Park. Ever. We do not promote streakers, or anything like that, but I mean, uhh, we will share this just because ... (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/UYO9BpTkqW— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 27, 2021
Joe Ross’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 55 P, 38 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Hoffman vs the Nationals: Jeff Hoffman, 28, and a 2014 1st Round pick (9th overall), by the Blue Jays, who was traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal in 2015, and then sent to the Reds this past winter, has put up a 4.31 ERA in nine starts and 39 2⁄3 IP for Cincinnati early in 2021, holding opposing hitters to a combined .240/.341/.393 line.
Last time out before tonight, he held the Brewers to a run on two hits in five innings of work in which he walked four and struck out seven.
Tonight in the nation’s capital, Hoffman gave up a run early with Juan Soto walking and Josh Bell beating the shift with an oppo single before Starlin Castro connected on a two-out, RBI hit that put the home team up, 1-0 in the bottom of the first. A walk to Josh Harrison loaded the bases with two out, and a second consecutive free pass to Alex Avila forced in run No. 2 for the Nationals, before Andrew Stevenson grounded sharply to second to end a 33-pitch frame for the Reds’ starter.
Hoffman issued back-to-back, one-out walks in the bottom of the second, then called to the Reds’ trainer and left the game after a brief conversation on the mound...
Jeff Hoffman’s Line: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 0 Ks, 46 P, 20 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
Davey Doesn’t Look At Standings - A Story: Davey Martinez reiterated something he’s said before when he was asked about where things stand for the Nationals right now, and if he’s ever, at this point in the season, compelled to look at the standings in the NL East.
Our division seems to be beating each other up,” Martinez said, when a reporter noted that in spite of their rough start, the Nationals were only 2.5 out of 1st in the division before their series opener with the Reds on Tuesday.
“Yeah, it’s kind of nice that because we’re 20-23,” Martinez said. “We’re still fighting to be at the top of the division, but we still got a long way to go and we’ve got continue to play consistently now, and that’s the key, is to come out there, score first, and try to go 1-0 today.”
Another reporter tried again before tonight’s game. Does he look at how close the race is in the NL compared to some others, and what does he think about that?
“What I think about is that we’ve got to go 1-0 today. Honestly, I focus on the hear and now. It’s going to be tight, I mean, it really is. Our division, we’re beating up on each other, so we’ve just got to continue to play, and worry about us, and continue to play hard every day.”
Damn, he’s good. And on message.
Bullpen Action: Reds’ righty Brad Brach inherited a two-on, one-out situation in the bottom of the second inning, and got the first out with one pitch on a Josh Ball fly to center field. It looked like he would get out of the inning when Kyle Schwarber sent a grounder to second in the next at bat, but second baseman Jonathan India looked at second before throwing to first, and the slight delay was enough for Schwarber to leg out a base-loading single. Starlin Castro flew out to end the threat though, still 2-0.
Josh Bell singled to start the Nationals’ third, stole second to get himself in scoring position, and took third on a groundout by Andrew Stevenson, before scoring on an opposite field hit by Joe Ross, 3-0.
Cionel Pérez took over for the Reds in the bottom of the fourth once play resumed and tossed a scoreless frame.
Austin Voth got the nod for the Nationals, and the right-hander worked around back-to-back two-out hits with help from Andrew Stevenson in center, who picked up an outfield assist as he cut Jesse Winker down trying to stretch a single into a double on the second hit.
Ryan Hendrix got the bottom of the fifth for the Reds, and retired the Nationals in order.
Voth came back out for another inning of work in the top of the sixth, and retired the Reds in order in a 13-pitch frame.
Luis García hit for Voth with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and sent a 2-2 slider from Hendrix out to right field then hustled around the bases for a triple in his first at bat back since being called up this week. Trea Turner stepped in next and sent another 2-2 slider soaring into right field for an RBI single, 4-0.
Ashton Goudeau came on for the Reds, and gave up a two-out RBI single by Josh Bell, who brought Turner in from second to make it a 5-0 lead.
Kyle Finnegan got the seventh for the Nationals and worked around a two-out walk in a 24-pitch frame.
Goudeau retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Tanner Rainey returned to the mound after landing on the COVID-IL while the team was in Chicago, and the hard-throwing righty gave up back-to-back-to-back hits, two singles and then an RBI double to center by Nick Castellanos, 5-1 Nationals.
Daniel Hudson took over on the mound for the Nats, and gave up a base-loading blooper to center off Tyler Naquin’s bat, and an RBI single to right by Tucker Barnhart, who drove in the first inherited runner to score on Hudson this season. A sac fly made it 5-3, but Hudson got out of the inning with a two-run lead.
Michael Feliz was next out of the pen for the Reds, and worked around a two-out single by Juan Soto for a scoreless frame.
Brad Hand came on in the ninth for the save opportunity and retired the first two batters he faced. Jesse Winker reached on a broken-bat infield single to get Nick Castellanos up to the plate as the potential tying run, but Castellanos grounded into a force at second to end it.
Final Score: 5-3 Nationals
Nationals now 21-24