Today's Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: The Washington Nationals took the first two games of their three-game season-opening series with the New York Mets on Monday and Wednesday. This afternoon, in the finale in Citi Field, the Nationals fell behind early as the Mets scored two runs in a 31-pitch first inning by Tanner Roark, but the right-hander settled in after that, throwing just 49 pitches over the next four scoreless innings as the Nats rallied to take the lead with a home run by Ryan Zimmerman and RBI hits by Denard Span and Jayson Werth giving the visiting team a 3-2 lead after five innings.
The Nationals added to their lead in the seventh, loading the bases in front of Adam LaRoche, whose two-run single bounced off Lucas Duda's glove and into short right. 5-2 Nats. Ryan Zimmerman's fourth hit drove in another run to make it 6-2 and the Nats went on to win this one and sweep the series in New York with a 7-2 win.
4. Row-ark!!!: Jordan Zimmermann was supposed to start this afternoon, but flu-like symptoms knocked the right-hander out of the planned outing, leaving it up to 27-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark to toe the rubber in the series finale with the Mets in Citi Field.
Roark made his MLB debut last season, going (7-1) in a +1.4 fWAR run which saw him post a 1.51 ERA and a 2.41 FIP with one HR (0.17 HR/9) and 11 walks (1.84 BB/9) allowed and 40 Ks (6.71 K/9) collected in 53 2/3 IP.
Roark faced the Mets twice over that stretch, going (1-0) with a 2.89 ERA, four walks and eight Ks in 9 1/3 IP. In his one 2013 start in Flushing, Queens, NY's Citi Field, he gave up six hits and two earned runs in six innings of work.
Pressed into service in the series finale with the Mets, Roark started slowly. Daniel Murphy lined to right on a 92 mph 1-2 fastball to right for a single, then took second on a pop to center by David Wright that Denard Span lost in the mid-day sun. Curtis Granderson's first hit of the 2014 season (1 for 10) was an RBI double to right on a 1-2 changeup down and away from Roark that the Mets' right fielder pulled into the right field corner to drive Murphy in from second for a 1-0 Mets' lead. Roark walked Lucas Duda with his 27th pitch of the inning, then gave up a sac fly to center by Juan Lagares on his 28th. Wright scored to make 2-0 NY after a 31-pitch first inning.
Ruben Tejada hit a leadoff single to right to start the Mets' second, but a sac bunt, fly to center and pop to third later Roark was through a quick, eight-pitch second. The Nats' starter retired the Mets in order in a seven-pitch third that left him at 46 pitches overall after three.
Juan Lagares "doubled" on a pop to right in the first at bat of the bottom of the fourth, hitting a pop fly that neither Danny Espinosa or Jayson Werth could reach. Travis D'Arnaud took the second walk of the game by Roark in the next at bat, but three straight outs followed in what ended up being a 15-pitch inning that left Roark at 61 overall after four.
A leadoff walk in the Nationals' fifth resulted in the tying run coming across, but after the Nats took a 3-2 lead, Roark walked Daniel Murphy in the first at bat of the Mets' half of the inning. A double play ball off David Wright's bat followed, however, as the Nats' starter got two quick outs. Curtis Granderson extended the inning with a two-out double to right on a 3-2 curve low in the zone, but a swinging K from Lucas Duda ended a 19-pitch inning that left Roark at 80 pitches overall after five.
Roark struck Juan Lagares and Travis D'Arnaud out looking with two-strike fastballs for the first two outs of the Mets' sixth, then put Ruben Tejada down with a 2-2 heater to strike out the side in a 15-pitch frame that got him up to 95 pitches total after six.
Tanner Roark's line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 95 P, 62 S, 4/6 GO/FO
3. #TKCHZ!!!: Ryan Zimmerman committed his first error of the year last night on a spinning throw to first, once again raising questions about his diminished throwing abilities, but the power is still there. After the Mets took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Nats' 29-year-old third baseman took a 1-1 slider from Zack Wheeler for a ride, sending it soaring over the left field fence to cut NY's lead in half at 2-1 after one and a half. The home runs was Zimmerman's eighth career home run in Citi Field, where the Nationals' '05 1st Round pick was 40 for 174 (.268/.356/.453) over 38 games in his 10-year career before today.
Zimmerman was 42 for 176 in his career in Citi Field after he signed to right on a 2-2 fastball in his second at bat in the fourth, but he was quickly doubled up on a grounder to second by Ian Desmond.
Zimmerman's leadoff single in the sixth left him 3 for 3 today and 5 for 13 vs Zack Wheeler early in the Mets' right-hander's career.
An RBI single in the seventh left Zimmerman 4 for 4 today, and gave the Nationals a 6-2 lead.
2. Wheeler Dealer: Acquired from San Francisco in the July 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants, '09 1st Round pick Zack Wheeler made his major league debut in 2013. In 17 starts and 100 IP for the Mets, the 23-year-old right-hander put up a 3.42 ERA and a 4.17 FIP with 46 walks (4.14 BB/9) and 84 Ks (7.56 K/9) in his rookie campaign.
In three starts against the Nationals last season, Wheeler posted a 3.93 ERA, giving up 19 hits, eight runs (all earned) and four walks (1.96 BB//9) while recording 14 Ks (6.87 K/9) in 18 1/3 IP over which the Mets' NL East rivals put up a .264/.308/.431 line against the right-hander.
Through four innings this afternoon, he held the Nationals to three hits and one earned run, throwing 67 pitches, 41 for strikes. Wheeler walked Nats' catcher Sandy Leon in the first at bat of the fifth though, andLeon took second on a sac bunt by Tanner Roark then scored when Denard Span hit a 1-0 two-seamer to right for an RBI double. Curtis Granderson's throw home arrived late and allowed Span to take second, and after moving to third on a fly to deep right by Bryce Harper, the Nats' center fielder scored on a two-out single to right by Jayson Werth. 3-2 Nats after five innings.
After giving up a leadoff single by Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth, Wheeler battled Ian Desmond for 11 pitches before inducing a groundout to short that started a 6-4-3 DP. Danny Espinosa doubled for the second time today in his two-out at bat against Wheeler, hitting a line drive to left-center on a 2-2 fastball, but a groundout to first by Sandy Leon ended a 25-pitch inning that left the Mets' right-hander at 114 pitches overall on the day.
Wheeler's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 71 S, 6/4 GO/FO.
1. SW _ _ P?: Scott Rice took over for Zack Wheeler in the top of the seventh and a single to center by Scott Hairtson and one-out grounder back to the mound by Bryce Harper put runners on the corners with one down. Jeurys Familia took over for Rice and walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases for Adam LaRoche, and the Nats' first baseman singled off Mets' first baseman Lucas Duda's glove to drive in two runs for a 5-2 lead.
Ryan Zimmerman's fourth hit of the game drove Jayson Werth in from third to make it 6-2. Ian Desmond grounded into what looked like an inning-ending DP, but the throw to first got by Duda and another run scored to make it 7-2 Nationals after six and a half in Citi Field.
Ross Detwiler threw a scoreless 14-pitch seventh. The Nationals added a run in the eighth when right-handed reliever Carlos Torres loaded the bases and walked in a run. Detwiler came back for an 11-pitch scoreless frame in the bottom of the inning and Rafael Soriano finished the Mets off in the ninth. Ballgame.
Nationals now 3-0