Series Finale Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Denard Span was 5 for 5 with two doubles, two runs scored, two RBIs and a stolen base last night in the Washington Nationals' 9-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds and the Nats' 30-year-old center fielder and leadoff man was 6 for 6 in his last six plate appearances after he jacked an 0-1 fastball from Alfredo Simon in the first today, sending a solo home run to right in his first at bat of the series finale. 1-0 Nats early.
Tanner Roark threw three scoreless frames on 36 pitches, but three pitches into the fourth he gave up the lead when Zack Cozart doubled to left on a 1-0 fastball and Brandon Phillips singled to center on a first-pitch slider to bring Cozart in.
Phillips scored from second one out later when Brayan Pena lined to left and it was 2-1 Reds after three and a half innings in the nation's capital.
The Reds' lead held up through nine. 2-1 final. Cincinnati takes 2 of 3 in Washington, D.C.
4. Roark in D.C.: Tanner Roark was up to 19 scoreless inning pitched on the mound in Nationals Park this season and 29 scoreless innings overall in D.C. going back to last August when the New York Mets finally pushed one across on the Washington Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander last time out in the nation's capital.
Roark was cruising through four scoreless on 60 pitches before he ran into trouble. Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada, with an RBI groundout, and Eric Young, Jr., with an RBI double, drove in two runs and helped push Roark up to 27 pitches in his final inning of work, which ended with the Nats still ahead 5-2 and Roark up to 87 pitches.
"For the most part good," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said in assessing Roark's outing following the Nationals' win over the Mets.
"He gave up that double to [Young] and kind of from that moment on he was a little bit up in the zone. A little bit erratic with his command and after the fifth it set up perfect for [Ross Detwiler] to face the three lefties and then we were able to get to the bullpen. [Roark] threw a lot of pitches in those five innings though. Early on it was good, and then it kind of left him a little bit."
Roark earned the win, however, improving to (3-1) on the year with a 3.65 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, 12 walks (2.19 BB/9) and 40 Ks (7.30 K/9) in eight starts and 49 1/3 IP.
This afternoon, in the series finale with the Reds, Roark made his second start in a row in Nationals Park, where the former Texas Rangers' prospect acquired in the July 2010 trade for Cristian Guzman, was (5-0) in 10 games, four of them starts in his major league career with a 0.68 ERA, a 2.34 FIP, 11 walks (2.48 BB/9) and 31 Ks (6.98 K/9) in 40 IP, over which he'd held visitors to Washington, D.C. to a stingy .169/.230/.199 line.
Facing the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in his career this afternoon, the Wilmington, Illinois-born Nats' hurler retired the side in order in the first inning...
1st: Tanner Roark started 3-0 to Billy Hamilton, but popped the Reds' leadoff man up with a 3-1 fastball for out no.1. Zack Cozart tested his counterpart at short with the Nats. Ian Desmond passed said test. An 0-2 curve to Brandon Phillips' got Cincy's second baseman swinging for out no.3 and K no.1. 12-pitch frame. 0-0 after a half.
2nd: Devin Mesoraco flew out to right to start the second. Roark walked Todd Frazier on five pitches in the next at bat, and allowed the Reds' first baseman to steal second without much of a look. Danny Espinosa made a diving stop and strong throw to get Brayan Pena for the second out of the inning. Frazier took third on the groundout, but was stranded when Chris Heisey K'd looking to end a 17-pitch frame. 29 pitches total after two scoreless.
3rd: Tyler Moore fielded a grounder to first from former National Roger Bernadina. Moore tossed to the covering pitcher when the opposing pitcher too sent a grounder his way. Two down. Billy Hamilton grounded weakly to third, where Kevin Frandsen made a Zimmerman-ish charging play and throw to end a seven-pitch frame for Roark, who was up to 36 pitches overall after three.
4th: Zack Cozart doubled to left on a 1-0 fastball from Roark then scored from second on an RBI single to center by Brandon Phillips, 1-1. Kevin Frandsen took a sharp grounder off his chest, recovered, but threw too late to first to get Devin Mesoraco. E:5. Todd Frazier flew out to center for out no.1. Brayan Pena was first-pitch swinging in the next at bat, however, and he singled to left to bring Phillips in and make it 2-1 Reds. Nate McLouth caught a fly to left off Chris Heisey's bat at the wall for out no.2 and Jayson Werth caught a fly to right from Roger Bernadina to end a 15-pitch frame. 51 overall for Roark after four.
5th: Alfredo Simon doubled to right and off the out-of-town scoreboard on the first pitch from Roark in the fifth. Nate McLouth made a range-y sliding catch on a pop to foul territory in left off Billy Hamilton's bat. Zack Cozart grounded back to the mound for out no.2. Brandon Phillips' sharp grounder up the middle bounced off a diving Danny Espinosa, who managed to keep it in the infield to keep Simon from scoring. Devin Mesoraco's groundout to short ended a 16-pitch frame by Roark, who was up to 67 pitches total after five.
6th: Roark took the mound in a driving rain in the top of the sixth. Todd Frazier walked in the first at bat and then took second on a groundout by Brayan Pena, but Frazier was thrown out trying to steal third with Chris Heisey at the plate. The play was reviewed, but the call stood... While the play was being reviewed, the rain became too intense and the game went into a delay... Roark came back after an hour and one minute delay. Heisey singled to left on a 3-1 fastball. Roger Bernadina walked to put two on, but Alfredo Simon drilled one straight down that Wilson Ramos handled. 21-pitch inning.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 88 P, 54 S, 10/8 GO/FO.
The line on Tanner Roark: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K; 88 pitches, 54 strikes. pic.twitter.com/5h33p5Lg7a— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 21, 2014
3. Simon on the road: As good as Tanner Roark has been at home in Nationals Park so far in his career, 33-year-old Reds' right-hander Alfredo Simon has been just as impressive on the road through his first four starts outside of Great American Ballpark in 2014, posting a 0.99 ERA, a 3.23 FIP, nine walks (2.96 BB/9) and 21 Ks (6.91 K/9) in 27 1/3 IP over which he'd held opposing hitters to a .172/.257/.245 line.
Before this afternoon's outing, the seven-year veteran pitched in Nationals Park five times in his career, making two starts and going (0-1) with a 3.38 ERA, four walks and 2 Ks in 8 IP on the mound in D.C. in which he held opposing hitters to a combined .241/.353/.345 line.
Simon was coming off a strong outing on the road in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in which he threw 7 1/3 scoreless when he took the mound today.
His scoreless inning streak on the mound ended on his second pitch of the game when Denard Span took a low inside fastball to right for a solo shot that landed in the Nationals' bullpen. 1-0 Nats after one.
Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore hit back-to-back singles off Simon in the second, but after the Reds' right-hander loaded the bases with one down, he got an inning-ending DP out of Tanner Roark.
Simon was through three innings on 47 pitches after a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third.
The Reds' right-hander lost a slider inside to Tyler Moore and hit the Nats' slugger with two down in the fourth before striking Danny Espinosa out with a 2-2 splitter that was called strike three. 60 pitches after four.
Tanner Roark reached on a one-out infield single in the Nationals' fifth, but Simon stranded him at second two outs later for his fourth scoreless frame after Span homered in the first.
Simon too stayed in after the hour-plus delay and retired the Nationals in order in a five-pitch bottom of the sixth.
Nate McLouth singled with two down in the Nats' seventh, but Simon got a fly to right from Greg Dobbs that Roger Bernadina caught. 2-1 Reds after seven. 94 pitches for Simon after a 16-pitch frame.
• Alfredo Simon's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 62 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
2. Some More Moore: Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters this afternoon before the third game of three with the Reds in D.C. that 34-year-old Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche (Quad) was on schedule to start his rehab assignment soon and LaRoche told reporters he thinks he could return as soon as his 15-Day DL stint is over on Sunday, when Washington will be playing the finale of their four-game set in Pittsburgh's PNC Park:
Adam LaRoche says he expects to be in #Nats lineup Sunday when he's eligible to come off DL. Probably will do short rehab assignment first.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) May 20, 2014
Before he comes back, LaRoche is likely to make a start or two with one of the Nationals' minor league affiliates, though the details of any such activity were unavailable as of today.
While LaRoche remains out of the lineup, however, Tyler Moore has been given a chance to play and get regular at bats, and the 27-year-old slugger has impressed at first base, where he's made several athletic plays in the last few days. In nine games and 30 plate appearances since LaRoche last played on May 9th, Moore is 6 for 27 (.222/.300/.333) with a home run, three walks, five Ks and six runs batted in.
Last night, the Nats' '08 16th Round pick out of Mississippi State University was 1 for 3 with a walk, breaking an 0 for 9 stretch at the plate with a sixth inning single off of Johnny Cueto.
In the series finale today, Moore started at first again and he singled to right with Ian Desmond running off first in his first at bat before both runners were stranded three outs later.
Moore was hit by a pitch in his second at bat of the game with two down in the home-half of the fourth, but stranded at first one out later.
With Simon still in for the bottom of the seventh, Moore K'd on a check-swing strike three on a 2-2 cutter high and inside.
Moore got one more at bat in the ninth with one down and Aroldis Chapman on the mound and K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider. 1 for 3, 2 Ks on the day.
1. The Wrap-Up: Craig Stammen took over on the mound for the Nationals in the top of the seventh and gave up a one-out single and a stolen base before completing a scoreless 13-pitch frame.
Tyler Clippard took over in the top of the eighth and threw a scoreless 19-pitch frame in which he pitched around a walk.
Denard Span lined to center off Jonathan Broxton in the first at bat of the Nats' eighth. Billy Hamilton appeared to make a catch, but upon further review it was ruled that he trapped it. Kevin Frandsen bunted Span over to second base, bringing Jayson Werth to the plate with the tying run at second. Span took third when Werth lined out to right field. Wilson Ramos K'd swinging at a high heater to end the eighth. Still 2-1 Reds.
Jerry Blevins pitched around back-to-back, two-out singles for a scoreless top of the ninth.
Aroldis Chapman came on to close it in the bottom of the ninth after blowing his first save of the season in the series opener. Danny Espinosa stepped in with two down after doubling off the Reds' lefty on Monday night... and he spit on a 103 mph 1-2 fastball down in the zone before taking a 2-2 heater for a called strike three. Ballgame.
Nationals now 24-22