The Myth of Row-ark Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Three hours and forty-one minutes after the scheduled 7:10 PM EDT start time for tonight's game, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves started the second game of their three-game series in Turner Field at 10:51 PM.
Five innings later, the Nats were the first ones to put a run on the board when Adam LaRoche absolutely crushed a 2-0 fastball from Braves' right-hander Aaron Harang, sending a solo blast out to right field for a 1-0 lead. LaRoche's 16th.
The Braves came right back, however, loading the bases with no one out in the home-half of the sixth and tying it up on a sac fly to center by Jason Heyward. 1-1 after six.
It remained tied at 1-1 through ten long innings before the Nationals loaded the bases on singles by Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche and a walk by Bryce Harper in the top of the eleventh. Wilson Ramos was first-pitch swinging against Braves' right-hander Anthony Varvaro and he sent a soft liner to center for a 2-1 lead. Kevin Frandsen followed with a two-run double, as LaRoche and Harper scored. Ramos tried to come in too, but after he was called safe, it was reversed. 4-1 Nationals after ten and a half...
That's how it ended. 4-1 Nationals final.
What a beautiful night for baseballohcomeonnownotagain pic.twitter.com/ourthHWl1a— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 9, 2014
4. Row-Ark: Tanner Roark failed to make it out of the fifth inning in his one career start in Atlanta, Georgia's Turner Field earlier this season in the second week of April.
The Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander surrendered six hits and five runs but received no decision in the Nats' 7-6 loss to the Braves that night, but the second-year major leaguer fared better the second time out against Atlanta this season, giving up four hits, three walks and one earned run in 5 ⅓ innings pitched in a 4-1 win in the nation's capital in June in which he earned his 7th of 11 wins so far in 2014.
That outing left Roark (2-0) against the Braves in his first two major league seasons with a 2.35 ERA, six walks (2.35 BB/9) and 18 Ks (7.04 K/9) in five games, three starts and 23 IP against Washington's divisional rivals in which Atlanta's hitters have put up a combined .177/.261/.241 line against him.
On the road this season, heading into tonight's outing, Roark was (6-2) in 11 starts with an ERA (3.49) over a run higher than it is at home (2.40), a 3.25 FIP, 11 walks (1.42 BB/9) and 59 Ks (7.62 K/9) in 69 ⅔ IP in which he's held opposing hitters to a .219/.265/.344 line.
After four straight starts in which he went seven innings and gave up just one run, Roark struggled in his last outing at home against the Baltimore Orioles last week, giving up seven hits and five runs in 6 ⅔ IP in what ended up an 11-7 loss to the O's.
Roark summed up his struggles in the loss succinctly when he spoke to reporters after the game.
"The ball was up, elevated," Roark explained. "I wasn't hitting my spots. Like I've told you guys many times before, if the ball is up and you're not hitting your spots it's going to get hit hard and that's what happened."
Would Roark be able to keep the ball down, hit his spots and avoid getting hit hard in Atlanta?
1st: B.J. Upton K'd swinging at a 90 mph 0-2 fastball up high. Tommy La Stella rolled over a 1-1 change and sent a weak grounder to first. Freddie Freeman tomahawked ;) a 2-2 fastball, sending a line drive to right for a two-out double. Justin Upton stepped in with a runner on and took a 3-1 fastball that was called ball four. Jason Heyward grounded to second where Ian Desmond was waiting. 19-pitch first for Roark.
2nd: Evan Gattis ripped into a high, 91 mph 1-2 fastball and lined a leadoff single to left. Chris Johnson started a double play with a grounder to first. 3-6-1. Emilio Bonifacio rolled out no.3 out to second where Asdrubal Cabrera handled it. 12-pitch frame. 31 total for Roark after two.
3rd: Aaron Harang grounded out to second to start the Braves' third. B.J. Upton K'd swinging through a 92 mph 2-2 fastball. Tommy La Stella stepped in with two out and lined a single to center on a 2-2 change. Freddie Freeman's fly to center ended a 14-pitch frame. 45 total for Roark after three.
4th: Justin Upton grounded out to second to start the Braves' half of the fourth. Denard Span caught a big fly to center off Jason Heyward's bat a step in front of the warning track. Evan Gattis K'd swinging at a 91 mph 2-2 fastball to end a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 57 total for Roark.
5th: Chris Johnson fell behind 0-2, but went the other way with a fastball inside and sent a single to right just hugged the line. Emilio Bonifacio took a first-pitch fastball through the right side to put two on with no one out. Aaron Harang bunted into a force at third and the Nats turned a DP 1-5-4 DP. B.J. Upton's fly to Denard Span in center ended a nine-pitch fifth for Roark, who was up to 66 total after five.
6th: Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Tanner Roark walked Tommy La Stella to start the Braves' half of the sixth. Freddie Freeman took a 1-2 fastball through the right side to put two on with no one out for the second straight inning. Justin Upton got up 3-1 and walked to load the bases with no one out. Jason Heyward fell behind 0-2, but worked the count full and sent a sac fly to center to tie things up at 1-1. Evan Gattis K'd swinging through a 92 mph 0-2 fastball. Chris Johnson grounded back to the mound. 1-1 after six. 29-pitch frame, 95 overall.
7th: Emilio Bonifacio K'd swinging through a 3-2 curve. Pinch hitter Ryan Doumit popped out to short. B.J. Upton K'd swinging to end a 15-pitch frame that left Roark at 110 pitches total.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 110 P, 70 S, 8/4 GO/FO.
3. Harang Hasn't Lost: Though he received no decision in four of his last eight outings, 36-year-old veteran right-hander Aaron Harang hasn't lost any of his last eight starts going back to a brutal outing against the Phillies on June 18th in which he gave up 13 hits and nine runs, eight earned in five innings.
Since then, the 6'7'' veteran of 13 MLB campaigns, who signed a 1-year/$1M dollar deal with the Braves this season, is (4-0) with the Braves 4-4 in his starts, over which he's put up a 2.72 ERA and a .272/.332/.398 line against in 53 IP in which he's walked 19 (3.23 BB/9) and struck out 27 (4.58 K/9).
Harang dominated the Nationals in his one start against Washington earlier this season, giving up five hits, a walk and one earned run in six innings pitched in a 10-2 Braves' win.
The win in that outing left him (2-4) against the Nationals in his career with a 3.72 ERA, 20 walks (3.23 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.48 K/9) in 55 ⅔ IP.
At home in Turner Field before tonight, in his first season with Atlanta, Harang was (4-3) with a 3.31 ERA, a 2.40 FIP, 23 walks (2.82 BB/9) and 68 Ks (8.35 K/9) in 12 starts 73 ⅓ IP in which visiting hitters have put up a combined .279/.335/.367 line against the over-sized righty.
Harang's 13th start of the year at home began with a scoreless, 17-pitch first in which he gave up a one-out single by Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing else.
Bryce Harper dropped a bloop single inside the line behind third in the Nationals' second, but he was stranded at first two outs later as Harang finished his second scoreless at 28 pitches overall.
The Nats went down in order in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd that left Harang at 38 pitches.
Anthony Rendon, who walked more than he K'd in college, took a leadoff walk from Harang in the first at bat of the fourth. Adam LaRoche sent a sharp one-hopper out to second and off a diving Tommy La Stella's glove. La Stella made a nice grab on grounder to the right side off Ian Desmond's bat and threw to second for the force and out no.1. Bryce Harper stepped in with runners on the corners and one out and took a 2-2 fastball inside for a called strike three. Wilson Ramos got a two-out RBI opportunity with two runners in scoring position after Desmond took second but grounded out to second to end a 19-pitch frame by Harang, who was up to 57 pitches total after four.
Denard Span tripled to the left-center gap with two down in the top of the fifth, extending his current hit streak to 13-straight games and his on-base streak to 35-straight. Asdrubal Cabrera walked with two down to bring Anthony Rendon up, but Rendon grounded to short and Emilio Bonifacio took the force at second. 20-pitch inning for Harang, 77 total after five.
Harang fell behind Adam LaRoche, 2-0, and fed the Nats' first baseman a fastball that ended up in the seats beyond the right field wall. Solo blast. 1-0 Nationals. Bryce Harper singled with one down, but forgot how many outs there were and was doubled up on a fly to right by Wilson Ramos. 16-pitch frame for Harang. 93 total after six.
Adam Bomb!!! Nationals lead, 1-0, as @e3laroche homers on 2-0 pitch.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 10, 2014
Denard Span singled with two down in the sixth, giving him 43 multi-hit games on the year, but he was stranded on the basepaths when Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to end a 10-pitch frame by Harang, who was up to 103 pitches overall.
• Aaron Harang's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 64 S, 8/9 GO/FO.
2. One Run Short: The Washington Nationals found themselves down 7-0 early in the series opener with the Atlanta Braves, but they battled back to get within one run only to fall short of completing another comeback in a season in which they've managed to rally from behind repeatedly.
As Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after last night's loss, there's no quit in the 2014 Nationals.
"Ordinary team would fold," Williams said, "down that many runs that early, it's easy to fold for a club. Our guys don't do that. They fight until the end and they proved that once again tonight, so that's a good thing."
Tonight, the Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Adam LaRoche's solo blast in the sixth, but the Braves came right back, loading the bases with no one out and scoring their first run on a sac fly to center. 1-1 after six...
1. The Wrap-Up: Jordan Walden took over on the mound for Atlanta in the eighth and retired the Nationals in order on 10 pitches.
Matt Thornton took the mound for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a one-out single on a line drive to center by Freddie Freeman on an 0-2 fastball. Justin Upton, who stepped in with a .312/.418/.597 line against lefties, grounded into a force at second, but beat out the back end of the DP attempt. Jason Heyward lined out to a diving Kevin Frandsen in left to end a 15-pitch frame.
Craig Kimbrel took the mound in the top of the ninth and retired the Nationals in order in a 15-pitch frame.
Evan Gattis popped out on a first-pitch fastball from Drew Storen to start the Braves' ninth. Chris Johnson K'd on a check-swing on a 1-2 slider. Emilio Bonifacio lined a two-out single to right on a first-pitch sinker. Ramiro Pena hit for Kimbrel with two down. Bonifacio stole second ahead of an on-target but short throw from Wilson Ramos. Storen walked Pena to get to B.J. Upton. Upton missed two fastballs, took a slider in the dirt outside, a high fastball outside to get to 2-2 and grounded to short to end the ninth.
David Carpenter took over for Atlanta in the tenth and retired the Nationals in order.
Tyler Clippard retired Tommy LaStella on a groundout to second. Freddie Freeman worked back from 0- 2 to a 3-2 count, and walked on a fastball outside. Justin Upton stepped in with a runner on and sent a high fly to left for out no.2 on a 2-1 change. Jason Heyward's fly to left ended a 21-pitch frame.
Carpenter came out for another inning of work and gave up a leadoff single by Anthony Rendon. Adam LaRoche sent a grounder through the right side, under Rendon's feet. Ian Desmond lined out to left where Justin Upton made a desperate reaching grab. Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez went to the pen for left-hander James Russell. Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and one out and took a base-loading walk. Anthony Varvaro took over for the Braves vs Wilson Ramos. RBI single! 2-1 Nats. Kevin Frandsen lined a double to right to bring Rendon and LaRoche in, but Ramos was thrown out on an ill-advised attempt to score. 4-1.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!! Rafael Soriano gave up a two-out infield single by Emilio Bonifacio, but nothing else in a scoreless bottom of the eleventh. Ballgame. 4-1 Nationals.
Nationals now 62-52