The final score of 10-5 does not tell the full story of how close this game was when Joe Ross exited the game in a 3-3 game with an injury which we hope is not serious. Joe Ross walked off the mound with one out in the 4th inning with the medical staff. Ross’ velocity had dropped to 86 mph on his fastball.
The story with Joe Ross can probably go back to 5 days ago when he threw a career high of 114 pitches which was 10.7% higher than his previous highest count of the season. Ross has an injury history.
“[Joe Ross] has some tricep tenderness and is in taking an MRI right now so we don’t know the results yet,” Dusty Baker said.
Matt Grace relieved Joe Ross and got the Nationals out of the 4th inning, but in the bottom of the inning was a huge managerial decision. Grace’s spot came up against the lefty Newcomb with runners on 3rd and 2nd base with no outs. The Nats had just scored a run to make the score 4-3 on a Heisey double and Grace indeed stepped in for his first at-bat of the season and fought at the plate before he struck out. Baker did in fact have Enny Romero available to pitch today after 7 days which gave Baker almost a full bullpen with a 4-day All Star break in front of them. After the Grace strikeout, it was followed by a Goodwin strikeout and a Difo strikeout to move the game into the 5th inning. Grace did throw a scoreless 5th inning and did a really good job t that point, but with a lead that grew to 6-3, Grace came out for the 6th inning and immediately surrendered a long home run to Johan Camargo. The next batter was Freddie Freeman who hit a single that ended up turning into a single plus a 2-base error on Bryce Harper. Freeman scored to make it a 6-5 game.
Joe Blanton pitched a perfect 7th inning for a hold, and then Enny Romero emerged from the bullpen and got Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp out on strikeouts for a big hold for the Nationals in a 7-5 game. The Nationals scored 3 more add-on runs in the bottom of the 8th inning as Bryce Harper got an RBI single followed by another Ryan Zimmerman strikeout, and then Daniel Murphy does what he does with RISP spots and shot a two-run double to the opposite field against the lefty reliever who had to face 5 lefty batters that inning.
The offensive stars of the game were many as Anthony Rendon had 2 hits and 2 walks with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Matt Wieters had 3 RBIs in the game including a sacrifice fly and a 2-run single. We mentioned Daniel Murphy, but also add in Wilmer Difo who had 2 hits and Chris Heisey had a RISP double.
“Anthony is our foundation man,” Dusty Baker said. “He’s a clutch man. We need a base hit to right [field], you need a homer, you need an RBI, whatever that you need. Anthony is usually the guy who comes through.”
Unfortunately the 5th best offensive player in all of baseball is not going to the All-Star game and Anthony Rendon is just one of the snubs.
The Nationals go into the break hobbling with multiple injuries as Joe Ross joins that long list. The Nats are 16 games over .500 with a 52 win record against 36 losses. The Nationals lead in the NL East is back to a 9 1/2 games over the second place Braves.
“We had a good first half,” Dusty Baker said. “I wanted 20 [games over .500] but you always want more than you have as a manager.”
“There are a few areas we really have to improve on you know. We have to improve on our first-pitch efficiency; and our bullpen efficiency; we have to improve on getting runners in from 3rd [base] with less than 2 outs. We really have to improve on our day game percentage of wins because that is one area we just aren’t real good. I want to improve our one run games.”