Just about everything worked out for Tanner Roark on Saturday night in his first major league start. The offense provided support. He continued to dominate opposing hitters as he had working out of the bullpen. The 26-year-old right-hander threw 6.0 scoreless giving up just four hits. He didn't allow a walk. He struck out four. He threw just 71 pitches in six innings of work. "The only thing he didn't do good tonight," Davey Johnson told reporters after Roark improved to (5-0) on the year with the Washington Nationals' 9-2 win on Saturday night in Miami, "He's supposed to be a good bunter and that was terrible. I could have done a better job than that."
The failed bunt attempt came in the sixth with runners on first and third after singles by Tyler Moore and Anthony Rendon. Roark struck out trying to get one down, but Denard Span hit a sac fly in the next at bat that brought in the Nationals' sixth run of the game. They'd score three more for nine total with Ryan Zimmerman homering twice on the night and Wilson Ramos, Span, Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore all driving in runs. But in the end it was all about Tanner Roark's effort on Saturday night.
"The story really was Roark," Johnson said. "He really pitched a great ballgame. I could have sent him out in the seventh, but he was about ten pitches away from probably the limit he was going to be able to go. But another great effort on his part." After 10 appearances in the majors this season, nine of them in a relief role, Roark now has a 0.94 ERA, a 2.18 FIP, seven walks (2.20 BB/9) and 23 Ks (7.22 K/9) and he's at least put himself in the conversation for the Nationals' 2014 rotation if not the bullpen since he's worked at Triple-A and in the majors in both roles this season.
"He's got great command and he's made quality pitches coming out of the pen," the Nationals' skipper said. "I see it from where I'm sitting and even talking to [Wilson] Ramos and he loves catching him because he hits his spots. It's one thing to have good stuff, but the best thing in the world is to have good command."
The Nationals' '08 25th Round pick also has good stuff that he's attacked hitters with since making his debut on August 7th. "He throws a really sharp breaking curve ball to left-handers and a good sinker," Johnson said, "He's also got a changeup he mixes in there. And uses a slider more on the right-handers. But, again, his story is he comes at them and he goes after them and he has good command."
He'll continue to start this season after what he was able to do in his first major league outing Saturday night. "He'll make his next start," Johnson joked, "I'm not that stupid." His manager likes the approach he brings to the mound. Johnson took him out after six since he'd been pitching in relief, but he had more left. "I'm sure he was ready to go out there in the seventh, and he probably thought I hooked him too early. That's the kind of kid he is."
"He doesn't want out. Doesn't believe in being tired."
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