Nats asking a lot from rookie Joe Ross in second start

Having dropped 11 of their last 14, including the first two in a four-game set in Milwaukee, the Nationals pitching staff can’t be in optimal condition. Jordan Zimmermann hung around for only 3 1/3 innings last night, once again leaving heavy work for the taxed Nats bullpen.

Right-hander Taylor Jordan was the first to follow Zimmermann to the mound in the fourth. He promptly served up two singles before Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez belted a two-run double to break the game open.

Right-hander Blake Treinen, who threw two impressive frames on Wednesday, didn’t fare as well last night, surrendering a run on three hits in just one inning.

blake-treinen-sidebar.pngLefty Matt Thornton gave up the last of the Brewers’ 16 hits but didn’t allow in run in his inning. And newly acquired right-hander David Carpenter saw his first Nationals action with a scoreless eighth.

That is a lot of wear on the relievers especially with the Nats sending rookie Joe Ross to the mound for his second career big league start this afternoon.

“I think we’re OK. We were able to get through it,” Nationals manager Matt Williams told reporters after the loss. “Treinen had to throw another inning. We got (Carpenter) in there. Thorny got in there for an inning. So we’re OK, but it’s difficult when we get short starts. It puts a little pressure on us. But we’ll have to deal with it.”

It wasn’t exactly the highest of pressure situations when Williams called on Carpenter to pitch the eighth with the Nats trailing 8-4. But the 29-year-old’s 1-2-3 inning was impressive nonetheless. The hard-throwing Carpenter’s fastball topped out at 97 mph during an opening strikeout of Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy before inducing a flyout from center fielder Gerardo Parra and a groundout from right fielder Ryan Braun.

“He was just aggressive in the strike zone,” Williams told reporters. “He used his fastball and a couple of sliders, but mostly fastballs. It’s been a while since he’s been on the mound competitively, so we were anxious to get him in there and get his feet wet.”

It was Carpenter’s first game action since June 2. The Yankees designated the five-year veteran for assignment the following day.

“It felt like the ball was coming out good, but still need to be sharper,” Carpenter told reporters. “I can’t complain too much about it with the amount of time off, but you can always get better.”

Carpenter showed up in Milwaukee yesterday and was activated a few hours before the game when right-hander Aaron Barrett landed on the 15-day disabled list with a biceps strain in his throwing arm.

“I talked with Wilson (Ramos) and everything,” Carpenter explained to reporters. “Just kind of what the plan of attack was and everything and what I like to do. I told him ‘whatever you feel like and whatever you’re seeing out of guy, we’ll go with that. And if I feel different, we’ll shake and go to another pitch.’ So, it worked out well (last night).”

Carpenter was 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in his first year in New York this season. But the right-hander experienced plenty of success in high-leverage situations the previous two years in Atlanta. The Nationals could benefit from a veteran power arm in the back end of their laboring bullpen.

The Nationals need a breakout performance from their slumping offense to help 22-year-old Joe Ross stay in the game longer this afternoon. Williams pulled Ross after five innings in last Saturday’s debut with hopes of adding runs with the Nats trailing 3-1.

Ross retired the first nine Cubs batters he faced before yielding three runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

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