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Nationals’ workhorse Tanner Roark hit hard, struggles in loss to Orioles

Tanner Roark gave up five runs in the first two innings of what ended up a 10-8 Nationals’ loss to the Orioles in the nation’s capital.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

In seven second-half outings before Wednesday night’s against the Baltimore Orioles, Nationals’ start Tanner Roark was (5-1) with a 2.51 ERA, a 4.80 FIP, 16 walks (3.09 BB/9) and 29 Ks (5.59 K/9) in 46 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he’d held opposing hitters to a combined .206/.290/.354 line.

Roark received no decision in his last start before tonight’s, a 6 ⅓-inning start against the Braves in Atlanta, after he beat Washington’s NL East rivals in D.C. to earn his 13th win of the season on August 14th.

Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters before the game that he was hoping for more of the same from his 29-year-old righty in the third game of four with the O’s.

“I’m hoping that Tanner continues to pitch the way he has pitched,” Baker said, “even though, as I said, he has an outstanding offensive team that he’s pitching against, but he’s capable of pitching against anybody.”

Whether it was Roark’s ineffectiveness or the Orioles’ “outstanding” offense, things did not start well for the Nationals’ right-hander, who gave up four runs in the first, one in the second, and threw 62 pitches total in the first two frames.

The five runs were the only ones Roark allowed, but he threw a total of 111 pitches in five innings in what ended up a 10-8 loss when the Nationals rallied late.

With his five innings of work, Roark reached 168 ⅓ IP, 57 ⅓ more than he threw in 2015 when he was in a relief role for most of the season.

Baker was asked before tonight’s start if he was concerned at all about the workload and what he was watching.

“You look to see what kind of command he has, I guess,” Baker said, “and what his velocity is, but everybody is about in the same position.”

Anyone who has pitched this far into the season is dealing with something as Baker said today.

“This is not called the ‘dog days’ for nothing,” Baker said.

“But, the strong survive during these periods of time and the better shape you’re in and who’s the strongest mentally and physically will work their way through these things.

“What’s going to happen next month or what’s going to happen the month after. This is kind of a warm-up to what’s to come and what’s to be.”

He talked about Roark and Max Scherzer as workhorses before the game.

After the loss he was asked if he was surprised the normally consistent starter had such a rough start.

“It can happen to anybody, it can happen even to a workhorse. The thing about it is he wasn’t sharp early. He hit a batter and then hit [Matt] Wieters to force in a run.

“They were jumping on his fastball early. These guys, they can hit. We knew that coming in here.

“I think we matched them or bettered them in hits, but they got some key two-out base hits and that was the difference in the game.”

We talked about Roark’s outing, the Nationals’ loss and the series with the Orioles on Nats Nightly after the game: