A's O.co Coliseum Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Oakland A's right-hander Sonny Gray threw two hitless innings to start tonight's game, but Danny Espinosa erased any thoughts of a special night at the O.co Coliseum with one swing at a 2-1 fastball from the Athletics' 24-year-old starter, sending a one-out solo home run out to deeeep right field. 1-0 Washington on the Nationals' second baseman's 5th HR of 2014. Zach Walters, Denard Span and Kevin Frandsen followed with the second, third and fourth straight hits off Gray. Walters and Span singled and Frandsen drove them both in with a two-run double that made it 3-0 Nats after two and a half.
John Jaso got the A's on the board in the bottom of the third when he took a first-pitch fastball from Tanner Roark out to right field for his second home run in two nights and his third home run of the year. 3-1 Nationals after three.
Roark went 8 2/3, Tyler Clippard finished the eighth and Rafael Soriano came on looking to lock down save no. 8 of 2014. John Jaso singled and scored on an RBI double by Jed Lowrie, 3-2 Nats. A single to left by Josh Donaldson brought Lowrie in and it was a 3-3 game after nine.
With two down and a runner on first in the tenth, John Jaso hit a long fly to right that bounced off the wall for a walk-off winner. 4-3 A's.
4. Row-Ark: Tanner Roark followed up on the first complete game shutout of his major league career against the San Diego Padres in the nation's capital with a rough outing in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park last week which saw the Phillies knock the Nats' 27-year-old right-hander around and out after just four innings on the mound.
Roark ended up surrendering seven hits and seven runs, all earned in that outing, throwing 85 pitches in four innings before he left the mound after throwing 105 in nine innings in his previous start.
"Everything was flat today," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after what ended up being a 7-2 Nats' loss to the Phillies. "Sinker wasn't sinking. Breaking ball was up in the zone. But other than that... Ryan [Howard] hit a pretty decent pitch out of the ballpark away. He's got good power that way. And that was the three in the first inning. So, it happens."
The home run by the Phillies' slugging first baseman was one of two Roark surrendered in four innings in CBP.
He'd allowed just two total in 32 2/3 IP in his first five starts this season. He allowed just one home run in 53 2/3 IP in the majors last season.
"Last time out he was great," Williams said. "This time not so much. So, that's the ebbs and flows of the game and pitching. Not much we can do about it now. Look forward to his next one."
Seven days later, Roark finally took the mound again tonight in the O.co Coliseum, where he faced the Oakland Athletics for the first time in his career. Roark entered the start, his seventh of the season, with a 4.17 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, 10 walks (2.45 BB/9) and 31 Ks (7.61 K/9) in 36 2/3 IP.
1st: A's leadoff man John Jaso took an 89 mph 1-1 fastball for a ride to center field, where Denard Span caught the first out of Oakland's first. Jed Lowrie K'd looking at a knee-high 90 mph 2-2 two-seamer. Josh Donaldson sent a two-out grounder to third that Anthony Rendon couldn't come up with on a backhand attempt. Ruled an E:5. Brandon Moss stepped in with a runner on, but grounded weakly to first to end a 17-pitch first inning by Tanner Roark.
2nd: Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to Anthony Rendon to start the A's second. Josh Reddick flew out to right on a first-pitch fastball. Alberto Callaspo took a 2-2 fastball inside for a called strike three, ending the bottom of the second after 10 pitches by Tanner Roark. 27 total after two scoreless.
3rd: A's second baseman Eric Sogard flew out to left to start the home-half of the third. Roark got Craig Gentry looking with an 0-2 fastball for out no.2, but John Jaso took a fastball out to right on the first pitch of his two-out at bat to cut into the Nationals' lead, 3-1 Nats. Jed Lowrie lined out to right for the final out of what ended up being a 13-pitch third inning by Roark. 40 pitches total after three.
4th: Josh Donaldson flew out to center on an 0-1 fastball. Roark threw a 3-2 change by Brandon Moss for out no.2 and K no.4. Yoenis Cespedes fell behind 0-2 quickly and went down swinging at a 1-2 curve outside. 14-pitch 4th for Roark, 54 total.
5th: Josh Reddick popped to third on a 1-0. Alberto Callaspo popped out to foul territory off third to end a seven-pitch at bat. Eric Sogard was the seventh straight batter set down by Roark, who finished a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth vs the A's at 64 pitches overall. 13 of 14 retired after Josh Donaldson's ROE in the second.
6th: Craig Gentry popped out to second on a 1-1 fastball. John Jaso lined to center on a 3-2 change. Jed Lowrie flew out to center on a 1-1 curve and Tanner Roark was through a quick, 12-pitch 6th with 10 in-a-row retired and 16 of 17 set down. 74 pitches by Roark through six innings pitched.
7th: Josh Donaldson flew out to left field on a 91 mph 1-2 fastball. 11 straight. Brandon Moss grounded out sharply to first. 12. Yoenis Cespedes' groundout to third ended an 11-pitch inning, after which Roark was up to 87 pitches, having retired 13 in a row and 19 of 20.
8th: Josh Reddick took a 1-0 fastball to center for a leadoff single and the A's second hit of the game, snapping Roark's streak of retired batters at 13. Athletics' DH Alberto Callaspo flew out to center for the first out of the frame. Eric Sogard lined into what looked like a double play when Danny Espinosa caught it, but his throw to first hit Reddick in the head and went by first into the dugout. Reddick took third on the E4. That was it for Roark. Nats' skipper Tyler Clippard came on with a runner on third and two out... and popped pinch hitter Derek Norris up to end the inning. Still 3-1 Nats.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 62 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
3. Tommy and Sonny: 27-year-old A's left-hander Tommy Milone earned his first win of the season as he shut Washington's offense down last night in Oakland's 8-0 win.
Asked what the former Nationals' prospect did to so effectively handle his hitters, Nats' skipper Matt Williams said it was all about Milone establishing his fastball inside, especially to right-handed hitters.
"The ability to throw the fastball in to the right-handers for strikes is the key for any lefty and he did that today," Williams said. "Put it where he wanted to, didn't throw a whole lot of curveballs, threw some changeups, but he commanded with his fastballs."
A's catcher Derek Norris agreed with Williams' comments on Milone's command:
Norris on Milone: "I don't think he missed a location all night. He was fantastic ... That's one of the best I've seen him throw."— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) May 10, 2014
Milone entered last night's game with a 5.86 ERA after five starts and 27 2/3 IP, and lowered his ERA to 4.54 with his eight scoreless innings.
Sonny Gray, 24, entered tonight's game with a 1.91 ERA, a 3.02 FIP, 16 walks (3.06 BB/9) and 40 Ks (7.66 K/9) over his first seven starts and 47 1/3 IP this season.
The 24-year-old, 2011 A's 1st Round pick debuted for Oakland last season and went (5-3) in 12 games, 10 of them starts, posting a 2.67 ERA and a 2.70 FIP over 64 IP in which he walked 20 (2.81 BB/9) and struck out 67 (9.42 K/9). He faced the Nationals for the first time tonight in the O.co Coliseum.
Gray's eighth start began with two scoreless and hitless innings in which he allowed a walk, but nothing else. With one down in the third, however, he threw a 2-1 fastball inside to Danny Espinosa, who launched a solo blast to right field for the Nats' first hit and a 1-0 lead. Hits from Zach Walters, Denard Span and Kevin Frandsen followed with Frandsen's two-run double giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead.
Gray held the Nationals off the board after the third, completing seven innings in which he allowed six hits and three earned runs. But the A's trailed 3-1 when he left.
2. vs RHP: The Nationals struggled to get anything going against A's lefty Tommy Milone last night, but even after being held to just two hits while the southpaw hurler was on the mound, they still ended the game with a .294 AVG against LHP this season, good for second in the National League (behind only the Rockies, .318). Their .353 OBP as a team was also the second-best in the NL (behind the Rockies again, .363) and their .466 SLG vs LHP was second best in the NL too, (once again, behind the Rockies' .514 SLG).
Against RHP, however, the Nats held the NL's 10th best AVG (.240), the National League's 7th highest OBP (.312) and the ninth highest SLG (.377).
After getting shut down by a lefty on Friday, the Nationals, of course, struck for three runs early against A's right-hander Sonny Gray.
They didn't do much damage after that, however, though Tanner Roark made the Nats' 3-1 lead hold up through seven.
1. The Wrap-Up: Luke Gregorson took over on the mound for the A's in the eighth.
Tyler Clippard took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the inning with a runner on third and two down and popped pinch hitter Derek Norris up to end the inning. Still 3-1 Nationals.
A's lefty Sean Doolittle completed a quick, 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Rafael Soriano took the mound in the ninth in Oakland with a streak of 25 scoreless innings on the mound looking for save no.8 in eight opportunities this season and 19 of 19 overall going back to last August...
John Jaso singled to left in the first at bat and scored on a double to center by Jed Lowrie, 3-2 game. Josh Donaldson lined to left to bring Lowrie in and it was tied up at 3-3.
Sean Doolittle came back our for a scoreless top of the tenth.
Drew Storen took the mound in O.co in the bottom of the inning and gave up a leadoff single to right by the A's DH, Alberto Callaspo. Nick Punto came on to run for Callaspo. Eric Sogard failed at bunting, popping one up to first for out no.1. Daric Barton stepped in next and flew out to center field for the second out of the inning... but John flew to deep right and off the wall for a walk-off winner. 4-3 A's.
Nationals now 19-17