5. Roark vs the Reds: Plugged into the Washington Nationals' rotation in Doug Fister's spots in the series opener with the Chicago Cubs earlier this week, Wilmington, Illinois-born, 28-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark went five innings on 66 pitches, holding Cubs' hitters to three hits and one earned run in a 2-1 win. It was Roark's first start of the season after he was moved to the bullpen following a (15-10), +3.2 fWAR campaign as a starter with the Nats in 2014.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked after the game about Roark's ability, thus far in his major league career, to adjust to whatever role he's been asked to fill.
"It just doesn't matter to him what the role is," Williams said. "He's anxious to get the ball whenever he wants it or whenever we can give it to him and whether it's one inning or five innings it doesn't matter."
The one run Roark allowed, and one of the three hits, was a home run by Cubs' slugger Kris Bryant in the home-half of the first.
As Williams explained, that was about the only pitch Roark threw that didn't go where he wanted it to go, but he was lifted after five because he'd been working in relief all season and was likely going to have to start again.
"With the exception of one slider to Bryant he threw the ball exactly where he wanted to throw it today," Williams said.
"Really kept his pitch count down through five. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to get guys out. I thought his fastball, it stayed 95 today, so we didn't want to push him too far."
Roark's win in Wrigley left him (19-11) in 37 appearances as a starter thus far in the majors, with a 2.68 ERA, 44 walks (1.69 BB/9), 162 Ks (6.21 K/9) and a .232/.275/.339 line against in 234 ⅔ IP.
Roarks' second start of 2015 and the 38th start of his career today in Cincinnati, Ohio's Great American Ball Park, began with a scoreless first in which he delivered one purpose pitch to Joey Votto's hindquarters and gave up a two-out walk to Jay Bruce, but stranded both runners at the end of a 13-pitch frame.
A six-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Roark at 19 total after two. A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third pushed him up to 31.
Roark fell behind Todd Frazier in the first at bat of the fourth, and left a 3-1 fastball up in the zone that Frazier put it in the left field seats. HR no.16 of 2015 for Frazier, 1-0 Cincy. Jay Bruce walked in the next at bat, but three outs later was stranded at first. 22-pitch fourth, 53 total.
THE TODDFATHER DELIVERS! #Reds up 1-0— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 31, 2015
Brandon Phillips got hold of an 0-1 fastball in his two-out at bat in the fifth and made it 2-0 Reds on a no-doubter to left field. No.3 of 2015, and his first hit in 18 at bats. Joey Votto and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back singles in the next two ABs, putting runners on the corners for Jay Bruce, but a fly to center ended a 23-pitch frame. 76 total.
Roark retired the Reds in order in a 16-pitch sixth that left him at 92 pitches.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HRs, 92 P, 55 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
4. Lorenzen, Michael: A 2013 Reds' first-round pick (38th overall) out of Cal State Fullerton, 23-year-old right-hander Michael Lorenzen was called up from Triple-A in late April to take Homer Bailey's spot in the rotation after going (2-1) over three starts with Cincinnati's top minor league affiliate, with a 2.84 ERA, 3.97 FIP, four walks (1.89 BB/9) and 12 Ks (5.68 K/9) in 19 IP.
In four major league starts before today's in the series finale with the Nationals in Great American Ball Park, the righty was (1-1) with a 2.35 ERA, 6.28 FIP, 11 walks (4.30 BB/9) and 14 Ks (5.48 K/9) in 23 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .235/.300/.447 line.
Armed with a mid-90s heater that he's thrown at an average of 94.3 mph thus far in the majors, and dialed up as high as 97 mph, a slider (85.8), curve (80.0), changeup (85.0), two-seamer (93.8) and cutter (87.6) that he's used sparingly, Lorenzen took the mound this afternoon for his fifth major league start looking to help the Reds sweep their three-game set with the NL East division leaders.
Lorenzen was coming off a seven-inning, 90-pitch outing against the Rockies at home in GABP in which he gave up just two hits, three walks and one earned run.
"That was Michael Lorenzen as good as I've seen him," Reds' skipper Bryan Price told reporters including, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon after that start.
Lorenzen's fifth turn in Cincinnati's rotation began with two quick outs, but he issued back-to-back two-out walks to Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and two out and grounded to third and into a force at second. 22-pitch first.
Michael Taylor took the third walk of the game from Lorenzen with two down in the top of the second, and then tried to score from first on a line drive double to right by Tanner Roark, only to get thrown out at home on a perfectly-executed relay from Billy Hamilton to Brandon Phillips to Tucker Barnhart. 19-pitch frame, 41 total after two.
Ian Desmond flew out to right on a 3-0 pitch from Lorenzen in the Nats' third, for the second out of an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that left the Reds' right-hander at 52 pitches overall after three scoreless.
Harper, Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos went down in order in a five-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 57 total. A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Lorenzen at 67 total with nine straight Nationals retired. A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth gave him 12 straight outs. 74 pitches.
Back-to-back walks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman to start the seventh, earned Lorenzen a visit from his pitching coach. Wilson Ramos lined out to second swinging on the first pitch after consecutive walks. Danny Espinosa took the third walk of the inning, loading the bases and ending Lorenzen's day.
• Michael Lorenzen's Line: 6.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 4 Ks, 0 HR, 89 P, 42 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
3. Sweep?: The Reds, after taking the first two games of the three-game set with the Nationals in Cincinnati, took the field in the Sunday finale looking for their first sweep of a series with Washington since a 3-0 series win in Great American Ball Park back in August of 2011, and their second series sweep of the season after they took three- straight from the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the first week of April.
The Nationals were looking to avoid their second series sweep of 2015 after dropping three straight to the Marlins in Miami in late April.
The losses in the first two games with the Reds snapped a streak of nine-straight series wins for the Nationals after the Fish won that series during what was a season-high six-game losing streak for the Nats.
Since that streak ended, however, the Nats were 21-8, going from 7-13 to 28-21 after yesterday's loss.
Today in GABP, the Nationals trailed 2-0 after six, but rallied to tie things up in the top seventh, only to give up four runs in the bottom of the inning in what ended up an 8-2 loss.
2. Turning Point(s): Michael Taylor took the third walk of the game from Reds' right-hander Michael Lorenzen with two down in the second and he tried to score from first when Tanner Roark lined a double to center in the next at bat, but Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Cincinnati backstop Tucker Barnhardt combined for a perfectly executed relay that caught Washington's speedy outfielder at home for the final out of the inning. Good send. Good relay. 0-0 after two.
• Tanner Roark held the Reds hitless through three, but left a 3-1 fastball up in the zone for Todd Frazier that the so-called "Toddfather" hit into the left field seats for his 16th HR of the game. 1-0 Cincinnati.
• Brandon Phillips was 0 for his last 18 when he stepped up with two down in the fifth and hit an 0-1 fastball out to left for his third home run of the season, the first since May 17th.
• Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and one out later Danny Espinosa took the fourth, fifth and sixth walks of the day from Michael Lorenzen in the top of the seventh, loading the bases and ending the rookie right-hander's day. With J.J. Hoover on the hill, Michael Taylor stepped in and lined a two-run single to left that tied things up at 2-2 .
• Billy Hamilton failed to get a sac bunt down in the Reds' half of the seventh, but after bunting into a force at second, he stole his 21st base of the year and was running when Brandon Phillips singled through short. Hamilton scored easily to make it 3-2 Cincinnati. #speedkills
1. The Wrap-Up: Reds' right-hander J.J. Hoover took over for Michael Lorenzen with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh and gave up a game-tying single to left by Michael Taylor, who tied it up at 2-2. Clint Robinson lined into an unassisted DP at first in the next at bat, but it was all tied up after six and a half in Cincinnati.
Aaron Barrett took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh and gave up a leadoff, infield single by Marlon Byrd. Byrd was forced out at second on a popped-up bunt by Billy Hamilton, however, but the speedy Red stole second with Brandon Phillips up and was running when Phillips singled through short, so he scored easily to make it a 3-2 game in Cincinnati's favor.
Matt Grace took over for Barrett and walked Joey Votto to put two on for Jay Bruce, who singled to center to make it a 4-2 game. Jay Bruce lined a double to right in the next at bat, 6-2. An intentional walk to Zack Cozart put two on for Brennan Boesch, whose single to right drove in another run, 7-2. That was it for Grace.
Taylor Hill gave up another run on an RBI single by Reds' catcher Tucker Barnhart, but got a double play out of Marlon Byrd to end the seventh. 8-2 Reds.
That's how it ended.
Nationals now 28-22