|Nats', Braves' pitchers looking for happy returns to mound|
There will be a lot of drama among starting pitchers when the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals end their four-game series in the national Sunday night game.
The Braves expect to start Kevin Gausman, who started for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday and fanned 10 in seven innings while allowing two runs. He was making a rehab start in his recovery from plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"I've really been pounding the zone with pitches during my rehab," Gausman told MLB.com. "That's the biggest thing with pitches, you're thinking, 'How will they work when I get in the game?' They've been even better in the game. That's encouraging."
The last appearance in the majors for Gausman was June 10 against Pittsburgh, when he allowed two runs (one earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
"I'm just excited to be back up here," Gausman added. "I've been watching these guys and itching. I love watching the guys, but at the same time, it's tough to watch because I want to be here and contribute."
Washington plans to start Joe Ross, who has made all 17 of his appearances this season out of the pen. He last outing at any level came Tuesday for Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League, when he went seven innings as a starter. The Nationals also had Austin Voth available, after he started Tuesday at Baltimore.
"It will not be Voth. It will be Joe Ross," Washington manager Dave Martinez told reporters Saturday night in Atlanta.
The Nationals were hoping that ace Max Scherzer could start Sunday night. He was eligible to come off the injured list on Saturday, but it didn't happen as he has inflammation in the bursa under the right shoulder blade.
"There's nothing wrong structurally with the muscle. I'm strong. I just have this inflammation in the bursa sac there," Scherzer told reporters Friday in Atlanta.
Voth went six innings and allowed just one run and four hits in the Nationals' 8-1 victory in Baltimore.
"It is always good to come in and get your work in after a good start," he told The Washington Times on Wednesday. "I will go through my same work plan."
But Voth told reporters in Atlanta on Saturday that his shoulder was "a little tender" and Ross, who has made 48 career starts, had arrived in Georgia.
Gausman is 4-2 with a 6.31 ERA in seven career starts against Washington.
Current Washington hitters are 33-for-100 off Gausman with three homers. Anthony Rendon is 7-for-17 with one homer, Trea Turner is 5-for-10 and Kurt Suzuki is 4-for-10.
Ross is 1-2 with a 7.40 ERA in six games (five starts) against Atlanta. Current Braves hitters are 19-for-57 (.333) against him, including Nick Markakis at 6-for-14.
In the third game of the series Saturday, the Nationals scored three runs in the fifth to take a lead of 4-1.
Atlanta cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth on a two-run homer by Brian McCann. But Washington added a run in the top of the ninth and Sean Doolittle got a five-out save.
"It was great. We played really good baseball today," Turner told Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).
--Field Level Media