Tanner Roark put together a solid outing in Monday afternoon's win over the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, but it was not without some help from the Washington Nationals' defense. One out after Roark issued a one-out walk to Chris Coghlan in the second, Cubs' starter Tsuyoshi Wada lined a 94 mph 1-1 fastball to left-center where Nats' left fielder Michael Taylor made a spectacular diving grab for the third out of the frame.
"Generally the pitcher -- you're playing him a little shallower than normal," Nats' skipper Matt Williams explained after the Nats' 4-1 win. "Wada hit that ball good and [Taylor] made a great play. Never know where that inning can go if that ball gets in."
After a two-out single in the third, Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo lined out to right field where Bryce Harper made a leaping catch at the ivy-covered brick wall. Harper was able to brace himself for contact to some extent, but he came away favoring his wrist.
"Harper banged himself pretty good going into the wall," Williams said.
"It's not real forgiving out there because it's brick behind it, but he made a nice play running full steam into the wall."
"He catches it with the left hand and braces with the right and got the forearm and the elbow, but he's okay."
Williams said there wasn't any concern about an injury.
"No, he'll be fine," he told reporters.
Roark went on to complete two more innings before he was lifted after 65 pitches in his first start of the season and the Nationals' bullpen locked down his first win and the Nationals' 20th in their last 25 games.
NATS BEAT: Harper, Roark and more
• "The Nationals needed someone to fill in Monday. Roark pitched them to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs — Washington’s 20th victory in its past 25 games." - "Tanner Roark pitches Nationals past Cubs in his first start of 2015" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Roark, 28, wouldn't even concede that he took the mound with something to prove." - "On the spot: Unselfish Roark provides big lift" - John Jackson, nationals.com
The line on Tanner Roark: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K -- 66 pitches, 46 strikes. Blake Treinen on to pitch the 6th. pic.twitter.com/XbY3oYX11z— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 25, 2015
• "Harper seemed to be favoring his right arm after the play, but the effects didn't show when he doubled moments later in his next at-bat." - "Nationals Pastime: Roark impressive in Nats' 2-1 win" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
Harper, Harper, Harper:
• "'Obviously it’s cool. We grew up playing against and with each other, and now it’s a bigger stage,' Bryant said." - "Old acquaintances Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant ready for first major league matchup" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "In the midst of Bryce Harper’s torrid May that has taken the baseball world by storm, it’s been easy to forget that the skill set of the Nationals’ phenom goes well beyond hitting the long ball." - "Harper showing he can excel at ‘the little things’" - Daniel Shiferaw, Nats Insider
• "After the game, he reported that Bryce Harper, whose momentum carried him into the wall in the third inning, 'banged himself pretty good.'" - "Injury updates: Bryce Harper, Doug Fister, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth (UPDATED)" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "'It's good to have guys who wear their hearts on their sleeves, and he's one of those guys,' Bryant said. 'It's awesome to see that.'" - "Remember when? Harper, Bryant meet again" - John Jackson and Sarah Trottoo, nationals.com
Not-Harper, Not-Row-ark, but still Nats:
• "Grimm retired Zimmerman, but then Ramos went deep to the right-field bleachers still under construction." - "Ramos' go-ahead homer stands up for Nats' win" - John Jackson and Sarah Trotto, nationals.com
• "That’s 14 scoreless appearances totaling 13 1/3 innings. Storen has faced 48 batters during that time. Only eight have reached base (five hits, one walk, two hit batters). Seventeen, on the other hand, have struck out." - "As Nats soar, so does Storen" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
Since his brief demotion to AAA in 2013, Storen has a 1.13 ERA ... better than any MLB reliever with at least 30 IP: http://t.co/ifLSD0k1iJ— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) May 26, 2015
• "According to Brooks Baseball, hitters are swinging and missing at 25 percent of his sliders — a high rate relative to the league but also to Storen’s usual." - "Drew Storen, National League saves leader, is one of the game’s elite closers" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Now, we’re 10 years in. The Nationals — just the Nationals, not the Expos or the Senators or the Twins or the Rangers — have a history of their own." - "The Nationals’ brief history goes on display at the Newseum" - Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post
Think the Nats don't have much history? Don't tell that to the Newseum. Opening July 31: http://t.co/vIv9hCJC9Q— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) May 26, 2015
• "The recent amazing run reached 20 wins in their past 25 games with a 2-1 with at Chicago over the Cubs on Monday." - "Morning coffee: Let's plays Nats math, plus notes on Giolito, Turner and Difo" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Hey, did you know Harper and Bryant knew one anoth-- oh, you did?
• "Why doesn’t anyone seem to like Bryce Harper? 'I couldn’t explain it to you, brother,' said the Washington National’s young star...." - "More than one Vegas favorite in Bryce Harper-vs.-Kris Bryant bout" - Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun Times
Nats are 19-9 this season with @thisisdspan in starting lineup. Span's return is a huge reason they have MLB's best record in May.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 26, 2015
• "'I love the fact we're playing such a good team,' Maddon said about the first-place Nationals. 'I like when you play good teams. It should bring out the best in the group...'" - "In Nats, Cubs catch glimpse of own future" - Phil Rogers, cubs.com
• "The Cubs' last seven runs have come on four home runs, and 13 of their last 24 runs dating to May 19 came on homers." - "Nationals show Cubs where they need to improve" - Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune
• "The Cubs have kept their eyes on Zimmermann for a long time, identifying him as a top target as they look for potential opportunities to upgrade as this window of contention begins to open." - "Cubs should keep their eyes on Jordan Zimmermann" - Patrick Mooney, CSN Chicago
• "Sandberg was hardly amused by the tactic and had some stern words for the Nationals and their game operations staff." - "Philadelphia Phillies: Ryne Sandberg calls Washington Nationals 'bush league' for playing soft pregame music" - FOX Sports
• "No team in baseball is hotter right now than the Nationals. Washington has blitzed the National League in May, going 16–5 on the month..." - "Watchability Rankings: This week's must-watch MLB games" - SI.com
• "We all know the deal — fans, media, players and executives cannot officially renew the Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper debate until Harper proves that he can stay healthy over a full season." - "Notes: Teams should trade for Hamels now, while he's hot" - Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports
• "Scherzer has laid waste to the National League so far, going 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA and an opponents batting line of .199/.234/.290." - "Five key things to watch this week" - David Schoenfield, SweetSpot - ESPN
• "Potomac’s Lucas Giolito may be one of the top prospects in all of baseball, but the Myrtle Beach Pelicans weren’t intimidated by the starter." - "Myrtle Beach Pelicans get to top prospect in win over Nationals" - Max McKinnon, The Sun News The Sun News
Morning coffee: Let's plays Nats math, plus notes on Giolito, Turner and Difo http://t.co/XBK0avIgtR— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) May 26, 2015
• "Most of the Washington Nationals’ top prospects are at other levels. OF Brian Goodwin, a first-round pick in 2011, is hitting .240 with one homer and 14 RBIs." - "Preview: Squirrels vs. Senators" - Richmond.com
• Hagerstown 4 vs. Greensboro 2 - David Masters - 3 for 4, 2B, 2 R - Hagerstown Suns Box
• "The Nationals, with a chance to split the series, sent RHP Lucas Giolito (1-3, 4.84) to the mound for his fourth start of the season." - "Potomac Nationals vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans Game Recap May 25th, 2015" - Potomac Nationals News
• "When Shawn Pleffner came to the plate in the tenth inning to face New Britain reliever Gus Schlosser, Pleffner had a pretty good idea what he was going to see from the right-hander." - "Walk-offs, spot starts, Vettleson returns, and the bullpen shoves: Harrisburg Senators' notebook" - Mick Reinhard, PennLive.com
• "Hill lasted six and one-third innings for the Chiefs', allowing the two runs on eight hits. It was the Chiefs 17th quality start in 23 May games." - "Syracuse Chiefs drop Memorial Day game to Norfolk Tides, Taylor Hill, Steve Clevenger, Josh Johnson" - Syracuse Chiefs News
NL EAST UPDATES: Amaro's apology, deGrom's 1-2-3's; Jennings on hot seat?; Braves' trade
• Phillies: "'They don’t understand the game,' Amaro said. 'They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan...'" - "Ruben Amaro: Fans Don’t Understand the Game" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley
• Mets: "Jacob deGrom will set a franchise record if he sets down the Philadelphia Phillies in order in the first two innings Tuesday at Citi Field." - "Morning Briefing: Jacob deGrom nears record" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN
• Marlins: "But only one week into the job, Jennings is not only receiving his share of criticism for a few of his managerial decisions, the thinly veiled jabs are originating from members of his own club." - "Does lack of coaching pedigree put Dan Jennings in the crosshairs? Plus more MIami Marlins news and notes" - Clark Spencer, Fish Bytes
• Braves: "If the Braves are still at .500 on the Fourth of July, there should be a parade down Peachtree." - "Will the .500 Braves stay afloat all season?" - AJC.com