PHILADELPHIA - Not too many times do you see the starting pitcher bat in the first inning.
Even more unusual is the opportunity to see that starter contribute in that first chance with a double.
The Nationals scored five runs on six hits in the first inning in their 9-1 shellacking of the Phillies on Friday night.
Joe Ross went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only three hits and yielding no runs with two walks and five strikeouts his first matchup with the Phillies.
The scariest moment for Ross was in the third inning. Leading 6-3, the Phillies loaded the bases on an error and two walks. A grounder to short ended the threat.
“Joe was outstanding,” said manager Dusty Baker. “Just that one inning, I think the third, when he had so may pitches and he kind of lost command of the strike zone. That was a very dangerous situation when you had the middle of their order coming up cause those guys they have coming up in (Ryan) Howard, (Odubel) Herrera, they can reach the seats, especially in this ballpark. And in this ballpark, you are never really comfortable, especially when you get an early lead like that.”
Ross replayed the third inning and what got him into a little bit of trouble.
“I was trying to do a little bit too much,” Ross said. “Trying to throw the slider a little bit too nasty, I guess. I kind of got away from throwing strikes. Then I worked deep into the count and had some walks. Got out of it luckily with no runs and then tried to just pick back up from there.”
Ross also got to pitch on Jackie Robinson day as he donned the No. 42 jersey. Getting the win on Robinson’s day made it special for Ross.
“Obviously, it’s a little extra incentive to go out there and try and pitch well,” Ross said. “First thing Dusty said before I went out was, ‘Do it for Jackie,’ kind with a little smile on his face. Just kind of like pitching on your birthday, pitching on your dad’s birthday, you kind of what to go out there and do a little extra.
“I’m going to have to give (Bryce) Harper a little shout out for these Jackie Robinson socks he got me. I am going to say they probably brought me some good luck. It was a good day to get a win today.”
In addition to the first-inning double, Ross walked in the seventh.
“I always try and say I can hit, and then finally going out there and having some good ABs felt good,” Ross said. ” Pitching is what I’m going to be doing, so that’s kind of what I got to focus on.”
Ross said his off-speed stuff centered around his changeup, even though he wanted to mix in other offerings. But he had to stay with what was working.
“Ended up being all changeups today,” Ross explained. “I wanted to work some splitters in there, but it kind of just didn’t really happen. But the changeup was good. I had some good (ones) below the zone, executed the pitches and I feel like if there’s a day where that’s not there, then maybe the split will be more relevant.”