Jun 19, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) is removed from the game by Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams (9) against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the weekend, things did not look favorable for the Nats. Their record sat at just a game over five hundred after dropping three of four games toTampa Bay. To make matters worse, the driving force behind their offense, Bryce Harper, was out of the lineup after suffering a strained hamstring on a wild throw in Thursday night’s contest. To top it all off, the Nats had red-hot Pittsburgh coming to town. Winners of eight straight, the Pirates boasted one of the best rotations in baseball, a title that the Nationals looked to have locked up before the season got underway.
If there was ever a time to think the Nationals would stay mired in the in their losing ways, this was it.
Instead, the Nationals found a way to win, and they did it in a way unconventional by comparison to the rest of their season. Rather than relying on the big hits, the Nationals manufactured runs. Matt Williams was aggressive on the base paths, and it paid off. They managed two runs in the first inning, and it turned out to be all that would need.
That was, of course, due to the pitching efforts Joe Ross. The young Nationals pitcher who was making just his third start for the team turned in his second consecutive spectacular game, holding the Pirates to one run over 7.1 innings. It was every bit as good as his performance against Chicago in his last outing, if not better.
Now, we’ll take a look back at these two keys to the game and see what we can glean from Friday night’s 4-1 win.
Next: Offense on the Run