Ross clicks on all cylinders before rain strikes

May 27th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Joe Ross’ turnaround start was halted when Wednesday’s game between the Nationals and the Reds at Nationals Park was suspended in the bottom of the fourth following a rain delay that spanned three hours and four minutes. 

The matchup will resume Thursday at 2:05 p.m. ET with Juan Soto at the plate and the Nats leading, 3-0. The team has not determined its pitchers. 

The originally scheduled 7:05 p.m. ET game will be played as a seven-inning game with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Both teams will get a 27th man to add to their rosters. 

Ross held the Reds scoreless with four strikeouts, three hits and one walk over 55 pitches (38 strikes). The right-hander showed encouraging results after struggling this month. Ross had not pitched beyond 5 1/3 innings in May, and he exited his last start Thursday against the Cubs after 3 2/3 frames. His last win came on April 24. 

“I felt like I was a little bit more back on track than the last couple games,” Ross said. “Fastball felt good, had some good sliders, only threw a couple changeups, but some of them I felt pretty good about. … Overall, I felt good about how I threw the ball.”

During the delay, Ross did band work in the weight room and played catch on flat ground to keep his arm warm in case he was going to return to the mound.

“I believe that, of course, he wanted to finish it out,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But he was pleased by the way he threw the ball, and so were we. He gave us every opportunity to win a ball game today and that’s great.”

Washington got on the board early when Starlin Castro drove in Juan Soto with an RBI single in the first. The Nationals took advantage of a two-out, bases-loaded opportunity the same inning when Alex Avila drew a walk to plate Josh Bell.

“It was good to get some early run support, for sure,” Ross said.

In the third, it was Ross who grew the Nats’ lead to 3-0 with an RBI single into right field to bring Josh Harrison home. Ross picked up his second RBI of 2021, setting a career high. He had previously recorded one RBI in both ‘16 and ‘17.

“Joe’s a great athlete, he really is,” Martinez said. “When he’s up there, we’re very comfortable with him swinging the bat. … Oftentimes, [I] joke around with him when he’s not pitching about making sure he has his spikes on, because we could use him as a pinch-runner as well. He goes up there and he competes.”