5. Roark vs the Fish: In his second start back in the Washington Nationals' rotation last week, after he moved back and forth between the bullpen and rotation all season, 28-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark gave up eight hits, a walk and two earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings on the mound in Marlins Park in a 2-0 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Roark was lifted after giving up his third single of the fifth inning, putting two runners on with two out in what was then a 1-0 game in the Marlins' favor. He said he was a little surprised at the quick hook, which ended his second straight start in the fifth, after he'd thrown just 69 pitches.
"I was a little surprised," Roark admitted, "but we're still trying to get back in the playoff hunt, so we've got to do what we've got to do to win."
One of the two runners he left on came around to score, and when the Nats failed to rally, he took the loss, falling to (4-5) on the year with a 4.38 ERA, a 4.52 FIP, 22 walks (2.24 BB/9) and 55 Ks (5.60 K/9) in 88 ⅓ IP over which he's held hitters to a combined .284/.330/.452 line.
Roark said he felt good in what was his eighth start of the year, but just his second since late June.
"Commanding the fastball, curveball," he said, "but the slider wasn't really there today. Went well overall. We played some great defense, great plays behind me."
The outing left the 2014 15-game winner (3-2) in his eight starts this season, with 5.06 ERA, 5.21 FIP, 10 walks (2.11 BB/9) and 21 Ks (4.43 K/9) in 42 ⅔ IP over which opposing hitters have a .303/.353/.471 line.
Roark's second consecutive start against the Marlins began with a single to center by Dee Gordon and one out later, two-run home run to left-center by Martin Prado that made it 2-0 Miami early. 20-pitch first.
Roark worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless, 11-pitch second that left him at 31 pitches.
Dee Gordon singled for the second time in two at bats, lining a fastball to left to start the third, stole second base and took third on a groundout, but was stranded when Justin Bour struck out to end a 17-pitch frame, 48 total.
Roark set the Marlins down in order in a quick, eight-pitch fourth that left him at 56 pitches.
Marlins' shortstop Miguel Rojas doubled to the left field corner to start the fifth and took third when Jarred Cosart bunted him over/gave up an out before he scored on a sac fly to left by Dee Gordon, 3-2 Fish.
Back-to-back, two-out singles by Christian Yelich and Martin Prado pushed Roark up to 72 pitches, and Justin Bour hit his 77th pitch into the right field seats for a three-run blast that made it 6-2 Marlins. 24-pitch frame, 80 total.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 80 P, 54 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
4. Cosart in D.C.: Marlins' starter Jarred Cosart threw five scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals last week in Miami, in his second start back after battling with vertigo and missing significant time this season.
In two starts back, the right-hander has allowed nine hits, four walks and just one earned run in 9 ⅔ IP, impressing his manager, Dan Jennings, with his work on the mound against the Nationals.
"He's got a natural cut action on his fastball and it's a huge pitch for him," Jennings told reporters after the Marlins' 2-1 win over the desperate Nats.
"For him to be able to pitch that aggressive, like I said, kind of effectively wild early, settled in to a good rhythm there, got his tempo going and got us through five in a way that he needed to do. He has that attack mentality and he did that tonight."
Cosart received no decision in that outing, which left him (1-4) on the year with a 4.58 ERA, a 5.05 FIP, 24 walks (3.93 BB/9) and 37 Ks (6.05 K/9) in 55 innings, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .246/.328/.449 line.
Cosart's second straight start against the Nationals began with a scoreless, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
Jayson Werth walked to start the second, took second base on a grounder to second by Clint Robinson and scored on a two-run home run to left by Ian Desmond, who hit a hanging 1-0 curve into the left field bullpen. 2-2 game. 26-pitch frame, 35 total after two.
Yunel Escobar walked with two out in the third, but Bryce Harper grounded back to the mound to end a scoreless, 17-pitch frame that left Cosart at 52 pitches.
Cosart caught Ian Desmond looking with a 3-2 sinker outside for out no.3 of a 17-pitch fourth. 69 total. Still 2-2.
Michael Taylor walked with one down in the Nationals' fifth, but was stranded at second two outs later. 15-pitch frame for Cosart, 84 total.
Bryce Harper singled with one out in the fifth, dropping a fly to left field into the wide open space left by the Marlins' defensive shift, but he got thrown out at third by Marcell Ozuna trying to take two bases on a Jayson Werth single to right... But wait!
The Nationals challenged the call and it was reversed. Safe at third. Runners on the corners. Clint Robinson sent a grounder to first in the next at bat, that got Harper hung up off third for out no.2. Ian Desmond worked the count full in his two-on, two-out at bat, and sent a fly to deep right for out no.3. 21-pitch frame. 105 total.
• Jarred Cosart's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 105 P, 62 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Washington took 13 of 19 games from the Miami Marlins last season on the way to their 96-win campaign. Through 15 games this season, the Marlins hold an 8-7 advantage.
• The Marlins won 6 of 8 at home in Marlins Park, but they've won just two of six in D.C. this season.
• Miami took two of three from the Mets in their last series before this weekend's in Nationals Park, helping the Nats' cause, and they've won five straight series heading into their four-game set in D.C.
• If the Marlins win their season series with the Nationals, it will be the first time they've done that since 2011.
• The Marlins are 10-4 so far in September, and their .292 AVG as a team this month is the second-highest in the NL, behind on the Nationals, .294 AVG.
• Dee Gordon starts tonight's game with a 17-game hit streak going and he has hits in all six games he's played against the Nationals in 2015.
• Jarred Cosart is (0-2) in five starts against the Nationals in his career with a 2.82 ERA in 22 ⅓ IP.
• The Nationals begin their final homestand of the season tonight and play 11 games in D.C. in the next 12 days.
• Bryce Harper started tonight's game ranked 1st in the NL in AVG (.338), OBP (.467), SLG (.670), home runs (40) and Wins Above Replacement (9.2 fWAR).
• Jayson Werth has a 25-game on-base streak going heading into tonight's game, over which he's 31 for 101 (.307 AVG) with seven doubles, eight home runs and 16 walks over that stretch.
2. Turning Point(s): Dee Gordon entered tonight's matchup with a 17-game hit streak going which he extended to 18 with a single to center in the first at bat vs Tanner Roark. One out later, Gordon scored when Nat-killer Martin Prado hit a two-run blast over the outfield wall in front of the Red Porch seats. 2-0 Fish in the first.
• Ian Desmond tied it up with one swing in the bottom of the second, hitting a two-run blast into the left field bullpen on a hanging-a$$ 1-0 curve from Jarred Cosart. Desmond's 18th HR of the season was his 11th in 58 games and 233 plate appearances in the second half.
• Miguel Rojas doubled and took third on a sac bunt before scoring on a sac fly to left off Dee Gordon's bat that put the Marlins up 3-2 in the fifth. With two on and two out, Justin Bour stepped in and crushed a fastball up in the zone, sending a three-run blast into the right field seats to put the Marlins up by four, 6-2 in the fifth.
1. The Wrap-Up: Doug Fister took over for the Nationals in the sixth and threw a scoreless, 11-pitch top of the inning.
Fister came back out in the seventh and gave up a two-out single to center by Christian Yelich but nothing else. Still 6-2 Marlins.
Kyle Barraclough retired the Nationals in order in a 10-pitch seventh.
Matt Grace and Rafael Martin combined for a scoreless eighth.
Anthony Rendon singled to start the Nationals' eighth and one out later, Marlins' skipper Dan Jennings replaced Brian Ellington with Mike Dunn vs Bryce Harper.
Harper worked the count full and singled to put two on with one out, but Jayson Werth popped up over the infield. Tyler Moore took a two-out walk to load the bases in front of Ian Desmond.
Jennings went to the pen again for right-hander Bryan Morris who started Desmond off with two sliders out of the zone. The count went full, when Morris missed with a slider down and away and Desmond hit a two-run single to center to make it a 6-4 game.
Jennings went to the pen again after Wilson Ramos walked to load'em up. A.J. Ramos came on to face Michael Taylor, who K'd swinging to end the threat.
Matt Thornton retired the Marlins in order in the top of the ninth.
Ramos came back out for the bottom of the inning and retired the side in order to end it. 6-4 final.
Nationals now 75-71