Joe Ross’s eight scoreless innings on June 13th were an example of the 28-year-old righty at his best.
Ross held the San Francisco Giants to five hits, avoided any walks, and struck out nine of the 29 batters he faced in a 108-pitch outing.
Coming off that stellar turn in the rotation, Ross started the first game of the doubleheader with the New York Mets on Saturday afternoon, but the right-hander was somewhat erratic early, and up in the zone, and he gave up a leadoff single by Jonathan Villar, and a two-run home run by Francisco Lindor in the first two at bats of the game, 2-0 NY.
Ross hit the opposing pitcher to start the third, and the Mets’ starter, David Peterson, came around to score on a Lindor single after a sac bunt moved him up, 3-0.
Back on the mound in the fifth, Peterson doubled off Ross, connecting for his first MLB hit, and Lindor sent another two-run shot out to right field, hitting a hanging 2-1 slider out for his second two-run shot, and a 5-0 Mets’ lead.
Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 67 P, 50 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
“Yeah, I just got beat by one guy, so,” Ross said after the outing, trailing off in his post game Zoom call after the Nationals’ 5-1 loss.
Was falling behind in the matchups with Lindor, which saw him hit a 2-0 sinker up in the zone, a first-pitch changeup, low, over the middle of the plate, and a 2-1 slider up and in, Ross’s problem, or the location of the pitchers in those at bats? Or both?
“Just not really in good, pitcher’s counts,” Ross said. “I tried to throw a strike and then also just not the best located pitch on top of that.”
“He falls behind on a pretty good hitter,” manager Davey Martinez said of Ross’s battles with the Mets’ shortstop. “He saw the ball well off of Joe tonight, so a couple of — fell behind a few times, hit the pitcher with a pitch, but other than that I thought he threw the ball fairly well. He did fall behind a lot.
“Slider wasn’t what it was before, it was effective to some guys, but some sliders to Lindor weren’t as good. But you know I thought he threw the ball okay.”
What was different for Ross in the outings vs the Giants and Mets?
“Maybe just command in certain situations, runners on,” Ross explained. “I was behind in the count a little bit a few times, and then putting the pitcher on with a hit batter, not the best way to start an inning, and then giving up a base hit to the pitcher, obviously.
“But yeah, I feel like I just wasn’t as sharp today.”
Martinez was asked if he had any second thoughts about leaving Ross in to face Lindor that third time, especially after the opposing pitcher doubled to start the fifth.
“No,” the fourth-year skipper said. “He had 65 pitches at the time, and like I said, I thought he threw the ball fine, just when Lindor came up things were a little different.”
“At some point you’ve got to have trust in your pitcher, and he’s got to understand, hey, he faced him before, he’s got to figure out how to get him out. We’re still down at that point, and we got another game to play, and like I said, we got another game, nine innings tomorrow. So it just didn’t happen for Joe today against him, but I thought he threw the ball fairly well throughout the game.”