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Nats 4, Pirates 1: Depleted lineup delivers, Ross dominates

Jun 19, 2015, 9:41 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman already on the DL and Bryce Harper joining them on the bench after suffering a hamstring injury Thursday night, the Nationals lineup faced long odds against A.J. Burnett and a Pirates pitching staff that had been brilliant during their 8-game winning streak.

So, naturally, that lineup pounded out 14 hits against Burnett, providing some much-needed offensive support for a once-again dominant Joe Ross. Wilson Ramos delivered a pair of RBI hits to the big part of the field to give the Nationals an early lead. Danny Espinosa’s RBI triple in the seventh added a much-appreciated insurance run.

The rest was up to Ross and the Nats bullpen. The rookie right-hander, making his third career start, was his best to date, striking out 11 while walking only one over 7 1/3 innings. The Nationals’ relief corps then finished things off, with David Carpenter turning in his fourth straight scoreless appearance since joining the roster and Drew Storen notching his 20th save in 21 tries to seal the win.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Friday night’s lineup — especially once you got past the 1-2-3 hitters — was far from an imposing-looking bunch. What they lacked in pedigree, though, they made up for in tenacity. That group managed to string together 14 hits off Burnett, and though they didn’t take advantage of every opportunity, they took advantage of just enough. Ramos had perhaps the two biggest hits: an RBI double to right-center in the bottom of the first and an RBI single to left-center in the bottom of the third. Both were well-struck line drives to the big part of the field. When Ramos is hitting that way, it’s a really encouraging sign.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: What more can be said about Ross? He has been nothing short of a godsend for the Nationals over the last two weeks. You thought his 8-inning start in Milwaukee was impressive? How about this one: 7 1/3 innings of 1-run, 11-strikeout, 1-walk ball against a good Pittsburgh lineup. Three starts into his career, Ross now has 23 strikeouts and only two walks. With Stephen Strasburg on track to return from the DL early next week (most likely Tuesday against the Braves) Ross’ time in the big-league rotation is probably about to end. Whatever ends up happening, he has shown the Nats he deserves another shot sometime, whether later this season or beyond.

KEY STAT: Andrew McCutchen had struck out only 18 times in 147 career plate appearances against the Nationals entering Friday. Then Ross and Storen struck him out three times in four at-bats.

UP NEXT: Strikeouts should be aplenty Saturday afternoon when two of the league’s best whiff artists go head-to-head. Max Scherzer (7-5, 1.93 ERA, 113 Ks) faces the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano (4-5, 2.94 ERA, 99 Ks) at 4:05 p.m. EDT.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:45 PM

    That was a nice win. Energy, hustle, MW kept the runners moving which proved big. Joe Cool was cool! Ramos the hitting star tonight. Bullpen nails it down.

    Joe Ross now has 3 good starts.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:45 PM

      Oh yah, Michael Taylor Web Gem!

    • rayvil01 - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:12 PM

      Was at the game. Ross’ slider looked filthy. Great win.

      MW started runners enough to be aggressive. Liked it.

  2. David Proctor - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    How do you send Ross down? I’m not sure how you fit him in. Before anyone suggests it, neither Strasburg nor Gio are getting kicked out of the rotation. I know Ghost has advocated putting him in the bullpen. Would they do that? I’m not sure how I feel about that affecting his development.

    The slider was the best it’s been all year. He didn’t need it today, but if he can get the changeup refined, his potential is unlimited.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      It’s a tough spot, but I think you want to keep him hidden in AA, and if anyone gets hurt and they can put him on a playoff roster, he’ll be that much more unfamiliar. The league will adjust to him. Let them do that after this year.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      Hang on my man, I’ve advocated keeping him in the rotation as long as it makes sense. I said the bullpen in September as his stuff is better than anyone in the bullpen except Storen.

      Not sure if he has an innings limit.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:01 PM

        It IS mighty tempting, and as a practical matter, it may be a situation where they win either way. But if you keep him up, they won’t go with six starters — he has to take somebody’s spot, and absent a genuine injury, I don’t see how they do that, not with Roark already in the bullpen as the guy who didn’t deserve to get bumped.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:07 PM

        We all know the Reds and Nats are talking about trading Chapman. Why not Gio for Chapman.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:10 PM

        re-reading, I see I left a part of that off. I realize you were proposing putting him in the bullpen, not the rotation.

        I’m not a big fan of starters in and out of the bullpen. He’s most valuable as a starter, because he’s good enough to be one, starters are more valuable.

        Now, if they were to trade someone off the current staff, and I wouldn’t necessarily mind that, then that’s different.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:12 PM

        I think they’ve got a better shot, and might get a better match, getting somebody off the Cubs, than Chapman.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:22 PM

        And yes, I know, I know … Cubs.

        But any one of Strop, Rondon, and maybe even Motte would be an improvement for the setup role to Treinan, whom Theo might take in a straight swap. Chapman isn’t worth the cost, IMO, either in payroll or in trade. He’s just the kind of pitcher who burns out young.

      • tcostant - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:25 PM

        Let’s not get to excited, Ross will likely get shut down after 150 innings. He 22 and never threw more than 122 innings.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:31 AM

        tcostant – That’s the point and why he won’t be a starter into September and why I’ve mentioned I believe by then he will be in the bullpen, but still a long way away.

        3 starts at the MLB level also doesn’t make a career.

        While you have to like what he’s done on mostly sliders and sinkers and a few changeups, it’s a lot of stress on that arm throwing that many breaking pitches.

  3. tcostant - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    Strasburg needs more rehab starts, let Joe pitch!

  4. npb99 - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Great win. And especially when a young player just arrived to the squad dominates his opponents. Joe Ross, your stock is rising fast. .

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Great, great win… given the line up.. Joe with a great night on the mound….

    Yeah idk how you send Joe down…

  6. veejh - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:56 PM

    Turner AND Ross for Souza (and Ott). Yikes!

    • Karl Kolchak - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      Horrible trade for San Diego, who got the seriously underperforming and now injured Wil Myers in the deal.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:17 PM

        And for that, they fire the manager. Go figure.

  7. exposremains - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Missed the game..Good job!

  8. ccallahan15 - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    How hard would it be for Matt to say something simple like “yay wasn’t he great!” ” funny to watch”. This faux- even keel on every thing is annoying. Even when it’s positive he shakes his head no shrugs his shoulders and provides no information. He acts like the pool is trying to literally pull his teeth out.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:06 PM

      Give Bob Carpenter for summing up what made this game different: “The Nats played a clean game.”

    • natsdial8 - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:10 PM

      I happen to agree with you but that is Matt’s style and doubt he will be any different . The game has changed as to colorful managers going off with the media. Not sure I like it but they are almost all like that now.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        Agree, it’s not fake, he’s just like that. And take heart, there’s still Joe Maddon.

      • natsdial8 - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:15 AM

        Yeah good call Maddon brings some personality .

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:05 PM

    Mets lose. 1/2 game difference.

  10. Karl Kolchak - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    Way to go, Joe!

    Love beating Burnett. I’ve never liked that guy.

    • stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:11 PM

      Seat neighbor said “Burnett must have the most tattoos of anyone in baseball.”

      “Two words. Matt Latos.”

      “Oh. Right.”

  11. Danny - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    Anyone see Trea Turners’ statline tonight? It’s quite impressive.

  12. Drew - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    Trea Turner, ladies and gents.

    He goes 3-5 tonight, with 2 doubles, 2 runs and 2 more stolen bases.

    In his first three games at Harrisburg he’s hitting .333 with 4 SBs.

    • Danny - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      Four games, but who cares

      • Drew - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:17 PM

        My bad. Thanks.

    • npb99 - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:22 PM

      Nobody better chime in with a small sample size comment! ; )

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:26 PM

        千里之行,始于足下。

        “The journey of a thousand Plate Appearances begins with a single at-bat.”

      • therealjohnc - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:33 PM

        .317/.376/.463 before tonight’s game … and that’s not a SSS 😉

      • Tyler Babip - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:25 AM

        Sofa, I can’t read Japanese, but it sure looks impressive.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:32 AM

        I’m all smiles 😉

  13. manassasnatsfan - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    Joe Ross pitched great last Saturday and Scherzer out pitched him on Sunday

    Ross pitched great night, will Scherzer out pitch him again tomorrow?

    More notably, JZim, Fister and Gio didn’t come close to matching him. Roark came close.

    Strasburg didn’t come real close in Harrisburg.

    Come on vets out pitch the kid, your suppose to lead, so do it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:34 AM

      I still give JZim a pass as the defense behind him was not good at all. We all know he should have been in the clubhouse with 2 runs given up.

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    SO, a thought experiment … the Half-Full version.

    Suppose Werth, Zimmerman, Desmond, and Strasburg were not in the picture — abducted by aliens, retired and moved to an ashram with Ricky Bell … whatever.

    This is a decent, but young, team that could contend, and will get better.

    Not so stressful that way, is it?

    • Eric - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:58 PM

      Nice

    • ArVAFan - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      Nice thought, except that it make me think of the Cubs. Oh, wait, that’s not actually bad anymore.

  15. manassasnatsfan - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:54 PM

    Notice in the game thread since the game was clean, the pitching was effective, and the only negative might be the 12 outs with RISP though one of the outs score a run……

    Our friend Nattygoat who claims to be a fan, is no where to be found. Though in losses he can’t show up fast enough.

    • stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:08 PM

      He’s already informed us that the season is over, right?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:14 PM

        Yanno, the less energy and attention you give him, the sooner he’ll leave. You’re just prolonging the agony by picking at the scab.

      • stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:42 PM

        Your concern is noted.

  16. 3on2out - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:06 PM

    33 post game posts and nothing from nasty goat? How can that be? You don’t suppose the team winning has something to do with it, do you?

  17. stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:07 PM

    Fine night at the ballpark. I’m totally cool with playing the same lineup again tomorrow.

  18. philipd763 - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    You can’t send Ross down. To date, he’s been better than every Nats starter with the exception of Scherzer. Let him start and sit Gio!

  19. ogremj - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:38 PM

    Looks like the Nats 3rd round selection, Wiseman, took a fastball to the throat in the TCU/Vandy game today trying to bunt. He hit a HR later in the game.

    • infideljack - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:58 AM

      He needs to sign.

  20. dcwx61 - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:59 PM

    looks like a big rainout on Sunday…could help with the Harp Healing

    • infideljack - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:59 AM

      I hate rainouts.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        yeah but I wonder who’ll stop the rain

  21. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Rain today

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