5. Roark in the rotation: In Tanner Roark's first start for the Nationals since late June, the 28-year-old right-hander held the Atlanta Braves to a run on five hits in 4 ⅓ innings pitched last week in Washington, walking three batters in a 69-pitch effort in a 5-2 win in which he received no decision.
Roark was good to around 85 pitches, according to Nats' skipper Matt Williams, but the manager went to the bullpen early when the Braves loaded the bases with one down in the top of the fifth.
"I think he used all of his pitches," Williams said after Matt Thornton came on to record two quick outs and strand all three runners.
"I saw some good curveballs. He got in trouble in his last inning and we had to go Thornton, but I thought he was good. He didn't get to 80-85, but nonetheless, he's prepared if he has to do it again."
In seven starts for the Nationals this season, Roark's (3-1) with a 5.21 ERA, a 5.41 FIP, nine walks (2.13 BB/9), 19 Ks (4.50 K/9) and a .289/.337/.471 line against in 38 IP, a year after he went (15-10) with a 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 39 walks (1.77 BB/9), 138 Ks (6.25 K/9) and a .236/.281/.351 line against in 198 ⅔ IP.
Tonight in Miami, Roark was facing the Marlins for the fifth time this season, making his first start against the Nats' NL East rivals after posting a 2.08 ERA, one walk, four Ks and a .278/.316/.389 line against in 4 ⅓ innings of relief work.
In three starts against the Marlins last season, Roark was (1-1) with a 3.10 ERA, five walks and 16 Ks in 20 ⅓ innings over which he had a .203/.263/.365 line against.
His first start against the Marlins this season began with a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
J.T. Realmuto reached on a two-out error by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the second, but was caught stealing for the third out of an 11-pitch second that left Roark at 22 pitches total after two.
Ichiro Suzuki singled to start the Marlins' third, but he was doubled up on a grounder to short off Miguel Rojas' bat. Jose Fernandez lined a two-out single to right, but Dee Gordon chased a high fastball and K'd swinging for out no.3 of a 15-pitch frame. 37 total.
Christian Yelich doubled to left field and Martin Prado walked in the first two at bats of the Marlins' fourth. Justin Bour sent Bryce Harper back to the track with a long fly ball to right, and Prado got doubled up trying to take second on a throw in from Harper. 9-6-4 DP. A HBP on Derek Dietrich put runners on the corners with two out, and J.T. Realmuto hit an RBI line drive to right to make it 1-0 Marlins. 22-pitch frame. 59 total.
Pinch hitter Tomas Telis singled to start the Marlins' fifth and took second base on a sharp grounder to third by Dee Gordon that got by a drawn-in Anthony Rendon. Christian Yelich grounded back to the mound and into a force at second in the next at bat, and Ian Desmond, seeing there was no chance at the DP, threw behind Telis at third and caught him going too far around third. 1-6-5 DP. A two-out single by Martin Prado ended Roark's night...
• Tanner Roark's Line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 69 P, 40 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
4. Fernandez unbeatable in MIA: Miami Marlins' starter Jose Fernandez returned from Tommy John surgery in early July to make seven starts, one of them against the Washington Nationals, over which the 2011 1st Round pick went (4-0) with a 2.30 ERA, a 1.75 FIP, 10 walks (2.09 BB/9), 53 Ks (11.09 K/9) and a .213/.263/.297 line against in 43 innings.
Four of those starts took place in Marlins Park, where Fernandez is (3-0) with a 1.44 ERA, a 1.98 FIP, six walks (2.16 BB/9) and 30 Ks (10.80 K/9) in 25 innings pitched this season.
Those outings left the 23-year-old right-hander (15-0) so far in 24 starts in Marlins Park since he made his MLB debut in April of 2013, making him just the second pitcher in major league history (along with Baltimore Orioles' starter Bill Hoffer - 1895) to win his first 15-plus home decisions as a starter.
In Marlins Park in his career, Fernandez has a 1.14 ERA, a 2.16 FIP, 42 walks (2.40 BB/9) and 183 Ks (10.45 K/9) in 157 ⅔ innings over which he's held visiting hitters to a combined .171/.231/.241 line.
Tonight in Miami, the right-hander, who was returning from DL stint for a biceps strain, was facing the Nationals for the second time this season after giving up four hits, four walks and one run in six innings of a 4-1 win back on July 28th.
Tonight, for me anyway, he wasn't controlling his fastball like he usually does, so he threw a lot of breaking balls tonight," Matt Williams told reporters.
We hit a couple of fastballs, but he wasn't throwing it exactly where he wanted to and gave us opportunities, we just couldn't get it done."
That outing left him (2-0) in four career starts against the Nationals, over which he's put up a 0.69 ERA, nine walks, 28 Ks and a .153/.229/.224 line against in 26 IP.
Anthony Rendon singled to left of Fernandez to start the top of the first and moved into scoring position when Jayson Werth drew a two-out walk, but both runners were stranded when Ian Desmond sent a fly to deep center to end a 21-pitch frame.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Fernandez at 34 pitches. Another 13-pitch, 1-2-3 frame in the third left the right-hander at 47 pitches, and he picked up a K for five total in three scoreless.
Bryce Harper singled to right to start the fourth, but after Fernandez got Jayson Werth looking, Ian Desmond lined into a 6-3 DP with Harper caught off first. Nine-pitch frame, 56 total.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Fernandez retired the Nationals in order, striking Tyler Moore out with a nasty breaking ball to end a 13-pitch fifth. 69 total.
• Jose Fernandez's Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 69 P, 43 S, 2/3 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: After last night's loss the Nationals are 30-40 on the road this year and 2-5 in Miami.
• Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 20-straight games last night, and he has hits in 11 of his last 12.
• Over the course of Werth's on-base streak, he's 25 for 82 (.305 AVG) with seven doubles, four home runs and 11 walks.
• In 21 games as the Nationals' leadoff hitter this season, Werth is (28 for 88) with a .318/.388/.580 line. He ended up in the four-hole when Yunel Escobar was a late scratch tonight.
• Bryce Harper entered tonight's game ranked first in the NL in AVG (.334), OBP (.466), SLG (.653), runs scored (104) and WAR (8.6 fWAR).
• Harper is now six walks away from tying the Nationals (2005-present) record for walks in a season.
• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Washington's offense ranks first in walks (104), second in OBP (.372) and third in runs per game (5.96) over the last 23 games, going back to August 18th.
• Miami took four of the first six games with the Nationals this season, but they've won just three of the last seven.
• Martin Prado's three walks last night tied a career high.
• The Marlins have a .959 winning percentage when leading after six innings, (47-2), which leads the National League and is second in the majors behind only the New York Yankees (.967, 58-2).
2. Turning Point(s): Tanner Roark gave up a double and a walk in the first two at bats of the Marlins' fourth, but his defense tried their best to get him out of trouble. Right fielder Bryce Harper, and an alert Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa combined on a 9-6-4 DP on a Justin Bour fly to right in the third at bat of the frame, but after a HBP put runners on the corners, a two-out RBI single to right by J.T. Realmuto gave Miami a 1-0 lead after four in Miami.
• The Marlins added to their lead with a two-out RBI single to left by Justin Bour in the fifth, 2-0.
1. The Wrap-Up: Sammy Solis took over on the mound for the Nationals in the fifth, after a two-out single by Martin Prado put two runners on in a 1-0 game, and gave up an opposite field liner to left by Justin Bour that made it 2-0 Marlins.
Kyle Barraclough walked Trea Turner in the first at bat of the sixth. Turner stole second one out later (SB no.2) and took third on a groundout by Danny Espinosa. Bryce Harper stepped in with a runner on third, and the Marlins went to the pen for left-hander Raudel Lazo, who got a fly to right to end the frame.
Joe Ross, in his first major league relief appearance, gave up a one-out single by Ichiro Suzuki and a bunt single by Miguel Rojas. Pinch hitter Casey McGehee went down swinging for out no.2, so Matt Williams went to the pen for lefty Matt Thornton, who struck Dee Gordon out to end the sixth.
Bryan Morris retired the Nationals in order in the seventh and came back out for another scoreless frame in the eighth.
After Matt Thornton threw a scoreless seventh, Matt Grace retired the Marlins in order in the bottom of the eighth.
A.J. Ramos came on for the save and gave up a leadoff double to left by Anthony Rendon, who took third on an error by Christian Yelich. Danny Espinosa K'd swinging for out no.1. Bryce Harper K'd trying to check his swing on a 2-2 bender inside. Jayson Werth? Called strike three. Ballgame.
Nationals now 71-70