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Ross has solid MLB debut despite Nats loss to Cubs

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Ross has solid MLB debut despite Nats loss to Cubs

Desperate times call for desperate measures and with two starters on the disabled list and mixed results from their usual spot-starters, the Nationals called on prospect Joe Ross from Double-A Harrisburg to fill in on Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs.

It was an unexpected move that caught Ross himself by surprise. He was called in to Harrisburg manager Brian Daubach's office after a Senators game several days prior and at first thought he was in trouble. Daubach and Harrisburg pitching coach Chris Michalak initially kept straight faces, knowing Ross would have no reason to suspect such a life-changing moment was awaiting him.

And once they told him, Ross took some time to process the news. He was going to make his major league debut at just 22 years old with an organization that acquired him less than six months before.

"It was kind of crazy," Ross recalled. "I was in shock for a good while. I didn't know what to say. I was happy, but I didn't smile or do anything. I was kind of stuck. Then after I called my parents and stuff, it really set in and hit me. I was coming up to D.C."

Ross' parents made the trip to Washington for the unusually early 12:05 p.m. start on Saturday. So did his older brother, Tyson Ross, who pitches for the San Diego Padres.

His brother's presence was supposed to be a surprise before reports on social media spoiled those plans. 

"Social media kind of ruined that one. But it was still a surprise to me," the younger Ross said. "It was awesome. I'm glad my parents could come, that was amazing. [Tyson] surprised me, coming out. I didn't know until just before the game. That was kind of an extra incentive, knowing he's there watching me in the stands. It was fun."

Ross admitted he was nervous when he first took the mound in front of the 38,214 in attendance at Nationals Park. That sure beats the crowds he was used to pitching in front of in the minor leagues.

"A lot of eyes. A lot of eyes in the stands. Nothing compares to this, Double-A or whatever level you're at. It kind of gave me a little extra adrenaline and then the first-pitch strike really helped me out," he said.

The first-pitch strike was against Dexter Fowler, whom Ross struck out. The right-hander set down the first nine batters he faced and was perfect through three innings. Then the Cubs saw him for the second time, however, and finally found some luck. They got a run in the fourth on a Kris Bryant infield single. They scored two more off Ross in the fifth inning on hits by Fowler and Anthony Rizzo.

Ross took the first loss of his MLB career, but his three runs across five total innings were plenty to give the Nationals a chance to win. It was their offense that failed to carry the load in a 4-2 defeat, their seventh in their last nine games.

The loss was a tough one for the Nats, as they nearly mounted a comeback in the ninth inning after Bryce Harper led off with a home run. But it didn't spoil the day for Ross, who impressed his teammates.

"He’s great," Harper said of Ross, who is the first teammate younger than him he's ever had at the major league level.

"He’s got a lot of good stuff. His slider is really good. His change-up is dirty. If he throws like that every single day, he’s going to be very tough to face. Especially the older he gets the more reps he gets out there and more comfortable he’s going to get. It’s a lot of fun to watch. If he’s anything like his older brother, it’s going to be pretty electric, pretty lights out. I think as an organization we’re excited, as a team we’re excited. Hopefully he can make another start up here."

"He looked great. I think a lot of the guys in here are excited about him. He's a stud," Ian Desmond said. "He looked like he had done it before. He looked like he had a brother that was really good at pitching."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon also saw similarities between Joe and Tyson:

"Quick arm. Velocity was there. Really, an effective slider, not unlike his brother. They're pretty similar with the slider. Great athlete... He's going to be very good for them. Coming out of Double-A, he represented himself really, really well."

Ross doesn't know what the future holds for him. If Stephen Strasburg or Doug Fister return soon from the DL, there's no telling when Ross will be back in the big leagues. He may have to wait until 2016.

Ross isn't worried about that right now, he is just enjoying the moment after his successful big league debut.

"I'm just glad to be up here and make the start today. I'm not sure exactly what's going on after this. But hopefully I get to stick around for a little bit," he said.

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2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

The Home Run Derby is officially here! Monday night, Nationals Park will host one of the most anticipated events of the All-Star Week, where the best sluggers in baseball will see how many dingers they can rack up as they face off against each other.

Everyone loves a good home-run show, so before the derby kicks off, here's what you need to know about it, from the start time to the TV channel to the lineup – which, of course, includes Bryce Harper in his second Home Run Derby with a slight home-field advantage.

Eight players have been seeded against each other, and despite the unusual lack of star power in this year's lineup — including missing Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — this should still be a good show.

There are seven players from the National League and just one from the American League, and the Nats' home-town hero could reasonably win. Harper is the only player participating this year who has previously played in a Home Run Derby, after finishing second in 2013 to Yoenis Cespedes.

So before the Derby starts, here's what you need to know.

HOW TO WATCH

What: 2018 MLB Home Run Derby

Where: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Stream online: Watch ESPN

LINEUP AND SEEDS ( *NL, #AL)

The seeding for this year's bracket was determined based on the number of home runs each player had accumulated by the end of last Tuesday's games, and any ties were broken by the number of total home runs dating back to June 15. Anyone whose home run total going into the derby is different from that at the deadline is noted.

1. Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers*

Batting average: .298

2018 HRs: 24 (23 at deadline)

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals*

Batting average: .214

2018 HRs: 23 (22 at deadline)

3. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers*

Batting average: .271

2018 HRs: 22 (21 at deadline)

4. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros#

Batting average: .288

2018 HRs: 20 (19 at deadline)

5. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .249

2018 HRs: 18 (17 at deadline)

6. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .292

2018 HRs: 19 (17 at deadline)

7. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves*

Batting average: .315

2018 HRs: 16 

8. Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies*

Batting average: .252

2018 HRs: 14

THE BRACKET


THE FORMAT

There are three rounds through the bracket with a single-elimination one-on-one format, with the lower seed batting first.

Each player will have four minutes per round, and each batter is allowed one 45-second timeout in the first round and semifinals, plus two timeouts in the final round of 45 seconds and 30 seconds. If a player hits a home run that equals or exceeds 440 feet, an additional 30 seconds will be added to the clock.

However, if the second batter passes the first batter's total, the round ends, and he will be declared the winner. 

Should there be a tie, players will compete in a 60-second swing-off with no timeouts allowed. If that ends and there is still a tie, they will have three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.

ODDS

Per OddsShark.com, Mr. Bryce Harper has the best odds to win the 2018 MLB Home Run Derby, followed by Kyle Schwarder,  Javier Baez and Jesus Aguilar. Here's the breakdown.

Harper +225

Schwarber +350

Baez +500

Aguilar +500

Muncy +650

Freeman +750

Hoskins +900

Bregman +1000

LAST YEAR'S RESULTS

New York Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge is the defending Home Run Derby champ, but he opted not to participate this year.

MORE ALL-STAR GAME NEWS

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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