Marlins 3-2 over Nationals: Giancarlo Stanton's monster HR the difference

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton loves to hit in the nation's capital. The one player the Washington Nationals couldn't let beat them beat them in this afternoon's Memorial Day matinee in Nationals Park. 3-2 Marlins. Stanton's two-run HR was the difference.

Memorial Day in D.C. Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton collected his 13th double of the season and his 14th double in 145 career plate appearances in Nationals Park in his first at bat today against Washington Nationals' starter Tanner Roark. Stanton lined to right with two down. Jayson Werth was on it, but didn't catch it, as it bounced off his glove as he reached down to his feet, and Stanton scored from second when Casey McGehee sent a grounder through the left side of the infield in the next at bat. 1-0 Marlins after a half inning in the nation's capital.

Roark made the mistake of putting a runner on (with a HBP on Derek Dietrich) when Stanton stepped to the plate for the second time today, so the massive home run the Marlins' slugger hit off the high green wall behind the center field fence was a two-run blast that made it 3-0 Miami after two and a half in D.C. 14 HRs in 146 PAs in the nation's capital for Stanton, 15 HRs in 2014.


Marlins' starter Nathan Eovaldi was through 5 1/3 scoreless when he gave up a one-out single by Jayson Werth and a two-run blast by Adam LaRoche on a first-pitch fastball inside that ended up in the upper deck in right field, high above the giant curly-W on the right field fence in Nationals Park. 3-2 game.

That was as close as the Nationals would get as the Marlins won for the first time in four tries in Nationals Park this season. 3-2 final in D.C.

4. The Growing Myth of Row-Ark:

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, in an recent MLB Network Radio interview, described the trade that brought Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals' organization in July of 2010 as a "low-level" trade that has paid big dividends.

"He's got four good pitches. He's not a soft-tossing, command-only guy. He can run it up to 94-95 if he has to." - Mike Rizzo on Tanner Roark on MLB Network Radio

Roark, a 2008 25th Round pick out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a school that has produced 80 major league players, Scott Spiezio among them, was acquired along with right-hander Ryan Tatusko (currently at Triple-A Syracuse) in a deal that sent Cristian Guzman to the Texas Rangers.

Roark turned a corner in 2012, in his fifth pro season and second year with the Nationals, and after going (9-3) with a 3.15 ERA, a 3.01 FIP, 20 walks (1.84 BB/9) and 84 Ks (7.15 K/9) with the Nats' top affiliate at the start of the 2013 campaign, the then-26-year-old right-hander was called up to make his major league debut.

In his 14 appearances with the Nationals, five of them starts, Roark was (7-1) with a 1.51 ERA, a 2.41 FIP, 11 walks (1.84 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.71 K/9) in 53 2/3 IP putting himself in the discussion for the fifth spot in the rotation in 2014 with his performance.

"Going into Spring Training we kind of had him penciled in as one of the guys who was going to help us this year probably out of Spring Training," Rizzo said, "and then when [Doug Fister] went down early in Spring Training, we felt that we'd have two young players, Taylor Jordan and Tanner in the rotation until Doug got healthy."

"He's got a really good curveball. It's slower than most, but he throws it for strikes when he wants to, he throws it for balls when he wants to, which is probably the key to pitching." - Nats' skipper Matt Williams on Tanner Roark's success

Through nine starts as part of the Nationals' rotation this season, Roark is (3-3) with a 3.42 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, 15 walks (2.44 BB/9) and 42 Ks (6.83 K/9) in 55 1/3 IP. At home in the nation's capital, after suffering his first loss in D.C. the last time out, he's (5-1) with a 0.78 ERA, a 2.53 FIP, 14 walks and 33 Ks in 11 games, five starts and 46 IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .181/.246/.218 line.

"Tanner Roark is an extremely good story for scouting and player development," Rizzo explained. "Our professional scouts, Jay Robertson in particular, and our scouting department identified him in a trade that we made a while back. It was a low-level trade with Cristian Guzman and got ourselves two good arms that we really liked and player development has really allowed this kid to step to the next level. He's a very confident pitcher on the mound. He's got four good pitches. He's not a soft-tossing, command-only guy. He can run it up to 94-95 if he has to. He pitches at 90-92, 93 with his sinker, but his command has really separated him from the pack in our organization and he's a guy that can really pitch to four quadrants of the plate with four pitches and on any given day can really go out there and handcuff some good-hitting ballclubs."

"He's been a great story for us and a really good scouting and player development story in general."

In an MLB Network Radio interview this morning, first-year Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked about what has allowed Roark to succeed thus far in his major league career.

"Just changing speeds," Williams said. "He's got a really good curveball. It's slower than most, but he throws it for strikes when he wants to, he throws it for balls when he wants to, which is probably the key to pitching. His changeup is effective and that changeup and the fastball in to left handers has really been effective for him so it gets them off of his sinker or his runner away. And he just works. He just works fast and throws strikes and keeps us in games, and that's all we can ask of him."

Roark made his tenth start of the season this afternoon in the series opener with the Miami Marlins, against whom he was (1-0) with a 1.76 ERA, four walks and 11 Ks in four games, two starts and 15 1/3 IP before today, over which he'd held Marlins' hitters to a .214/.267/.286 line.

1st: Chrisitian Yelich grounded out to second to start today's game. Derek Dietrich popped up over the mound where Anthony Rendon made the catch. Giancarlo Stanton lined to right with two down. Jayson Werth got there but couldn't make the catch. Stanton's 13th double of the year was followed by an RBI single to left by Casey McGehee as the Marlins jumped out to a 1-0 lead. A groundout to first by Garrett Jones in the next at bat ended an 18-pitch frame by Roark.

2nd: Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a seven-pitch, leadoff walk in the top of the second. Marcell Ozuna K'd looking at a 3-2 fastball with Saltalamacchia running. Wilson Ramos threw him out for the strike'em out, throw'em out double play. Adeiny Hechavarria stepped in with two down and grounded out to short to end a 20-pitch frame. 38 overall after two. 1-0 Fish.

3rd: Roark threw a 90 mph 1-2 fastball by Nathan Eovaldi to get the opposing pitcher looking for out no.1 in the third. Danny Espinosa dove for a sharp grounder off Christian Yelich's bat and threw the Marlins' outfielder out at first. Roark hit Derek Dietrich to put a runner on in front of Giancarlo Stanton and the Fish slugger took a first-pitch slider to deeeeeep center field for a two-run blast that made it 3-0 Marlins. Casey McGehee's groundout ended a 12-pitch frame that left Roark at 50 even.

4th: Garrett Jones flew to right for the first out of the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded weakly to first on the first pitch he saw. Marcell Ozuna grounded weakly enough to third that he was able to beat Anthony Rendon's throw to first base. Adeiny Hechavarria's groundout to second ended an 11-pitch frame after which Roark was up to 61 pitches.

5th: Nathan Eovaldi battled for seven pitches before he went down looking. Christian Yelich grounded to short for out no.2. A swinging K by Derek Dietrich on a 1-2 slider ended an 18-pitch frame. 79 overall after five.

6th: Giancarlo Stanton popped out to right to start the sixth. Casey McGehee was 2 for 3 today after he doubled down the line in right. With Garrett Jones up, McGehee got picked off second. Marlins' manager Mike Redmond challenged the call, but it was ruled an out in spite of the fact that Ian Desmond appeared to miss the tag. Garrett Jones' fly to left ended a 10-pitch frame. 89 overall for Roark.

7th: Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew out to right. Marcell Ozuna did the same. Adeiny Hechavarria's flyout to right-center ended a quick, six-pitch inning that left Roark at 95 overall.

Tanner Roark's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 62 S, 7/4 GO/FO.

3. Facing Eovaldi: This weekend in Pittsburgh, the Washington Nationals' faced Pirates' right-hander Gerrit Cole, the no.1 pick of the 2011 Draft and the co-leader in the National League for the hardest fastball. Through 64 2/3 IP so far in 2014, Cole has averaged an NL-high 95.6 mph with his heater, tied with today's starter for the Miami Marlins, Nathan Eovaldi. The former LA Dodgers prospect, acquired from Los Angeles in the July 2012 Hanley Ramirez trade, has the hardest two-seamer in the majors, throwing it an average velocity of 96.1 mph.

In spite of his impressive velocity, the Nationals have hit Eovaldi well thus far in his career. In three starts against the Nats before today, the right-hander was (1-2) with a 6.00 ERA, five walks (3.00 BB/9) and 13 Ks (7.80 K/9) in 15 IP in which opposing hitters put up a .317/.368/.460 line against him.

In his one start in Nationals Park before today, however, he held the Nats to eight hits and two earned runs in six innings in which he walked one and struck out six.

Eovaldi's second career outing in D.C. started with a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 first.

Wilson Ramos doubled to right with one down in the second, but two outs later he was stranded at second base. Eovaldi's 11-pitch frame left him at 27 total after two.

Given a 3-0 lead to work with in the top of the inning, Eovaldi retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the third, completing a 13-pitch frame at 40 overall after three.

After issuing a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon in the Nationals' fourth, the Marlins' starter retired two batters before giving up a grounder to center that got through Derek Dietrich's five-hole. Ian Desmond stepped in with runners on the corners and K'd swinging to end a 29-pitch inning that left Eovaldi at 69 overall after four.

Eovaldi hit Danny Espinosa who (h/t to @NationalsDSP) has been hit as many times as he's walked this season (6 HBP, 6 BB). Tanner Roark bunted with one down to move Espinosa over, but the Nats' runner was stranded at second when Denard Span popped out to short left to end a 13-pitch inning that pushed the Marlins' starter up to 82 pitches.

Jayson Werth singled with one down in the sixth inning and Adam LaRoche followed with a two-run home run that landed in the upper deck in right, high above the giant curly-W on the right field fence. 3-2 Marlins. Ian Desmond came close to tying it up with a two-out shot to right, but Giancarlo Stanton caught it a step in front of the fence. 15-pitch frame, 97 overall for Eovaldi.

After Eovaldi hit Nate McLouth with one down in the seventh, he was replaced on the mound by Mike Dunn. Tyler Moore K'd swinging for the second out of the frame and Denard Span flew out to left to end it.

Nathan Eovaldi's Line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 67 S, 8/5 GO/FO.

2. Stopping Giancarlo: You can't stop Giancarlo Stanton in the nation's capital, though the Nationals' pitchers managed to limit him to two hits in 12 at bats in the Marlins' first series in Nationals Park this season.

Thus far in the 24-year-old slugger's five-year career, however, he's posted a .307/.398/.674 line with 19 doubles and 20 HRs in 60 games and 249 plate appearances against the Nats.

In D.C., he's crushed Washington pitching, with a .320/.403/.736 line, 13 of his 19 doubles and 13 of his 20 home runs in 33 games and 144 PAs in the Nationals' home.

Stanton entered this week's series with a .307/.398/.599 line on the year with 12 doubles and 14 HRs in 51 games and 221 PAs.

The Marlins' slugger collected his 13th double of the season and his 14th double in 145 career PAs in D.C. in his first at bat today and scored from second on a two-out single to center by Casey McGehee to make it 1-0.

Stanton collected his 14th HR in 146 PAs in D.C. and his 15th HR of 2014 in his second trip to the plate, taking a first-pitch slider to deep center field and off the high green wall behind the outfield fence for two-run blast that made it 3-0 Fish.

At bat no.3 for Stanton in the top of the sixth saw him fly out to right. 2 for 3 today.

There was a runner on when Stanton stepped to the plate for the fourth time and lined a 1-0 change to center for a single that left him 3 for 4 and a triple away from the cycle.

1. The Wrap-Up: Marlins' lefty Mike Dunn took over on the mound against pinch hitter Tyler Moore with one on and one out in the seventh and struck Moore out for the second out of the frame. Nate McLouth stole second with Denard Span at the plate, but Span's fly to left ended the inning. Still 3-2 Fish.

Tyler Clippard gave up a two-out single by Derek Dietrich in the Marlins' eighth, bringing Giancarlo Stanton up. Stanton singled to center to put runners on the corners with two down, but Casey McGehee lined out to right to end the threat.

Marlins' right-hander A.J. Ramos took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and retired the Nationals in order with some help from home plate ump Fieldin Culbreth, whose strike calls were questionable.

Jerry Blevins took the hill in Nats Park for the top of the ninth as Marlins' closer Steve Cisek warmed up for the save opportunity and retired the Marlins in order to keep it close.

WIlson Ramos led off the Nats' ninth against Cisek and flew out to right for out no.1. Ian Desmond... took a 3-2 sinker outside for a called strike three. Kevin Frandsen hit for Danny Espinosa with two down, and grounded out to short to end it. 3-2 final.

Nationals now 25-26

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