All the run-support Washington Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark needed came in the second at bat of Monday night’s game, when Jayson Werth hit a solo shot to left in what ended up a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Roark tossed seven scoreless on 100 pitches, 24 of them in the first, and he gave up just four hits total on the night, walking one batter and hitting one on the way to earning his 14th win of the season (W, 14-7).
Roark threw at least seven scoreless for the eighth time this season. He’s gone that deep in scoreless starts more often than any other major league pitcher.
He ended the night with a 2.87 ERA on the year, a 3.75 FIP, 55 walks (2.82 BB/9) and 139 Ks (7.13 K/9) in 175 ⅓ IP.
That the solid start against the Phillies came after a relatively rough outing against the Baltimore Orioles last week in the nation’s capital, did not surprise Roark’s manager.
“After his last start I figured he’d have a good one this time,” Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ 76th win of the season, which was also their seventh straight over their NL East rivals and their fourth straight in Citizens Bank Park, where they’ve also won 8 of their last 9 and 11 of their last 13.
When the Phillies did have runners reach base, Roark worked his way out of any danger, striking out two batters after a one-out single in the first, stranding both runners who reached base when he hit one and walked the other in the third, getting a 6-3 DP after a leadoff single in the fourth, stranding a one-out single in the fifth and getting a 4-6-3 DP in the sixth before wrapping things up with a 1-2-3 seventh.
“He was sharp, threw up some key double plays,” Baker said. “Those always help, cause you know, he was kind of wavering there before that last double play. I was watching the pitch count up there and he was getting up there around that 90 mark, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy please, we need a double play.’ And we got it.”
Asked about what changed for Roark after the first that allowed him to “coast” the rest of the way, Baker said, “He wasn’t really coasting.”
“We had a game plan,” Baker explained.
“[Pitching coach] Mike [Maddux] drew up a game plan for him and Wilson [Ramos] and he stuck with it.
“Mike spends endless hours watching video and how to attack the hitters and he gives a game plan to the players and they stuck with it and they executed it and any time you execute something, most of the time you come out successful.”
“I think after the first two innings, the third inning I started executing,” Roark told reporters, “and really driving the ball in there instead of just using my upper body.
“But I used my legs as well, and everything felt in sync.”
With pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer in the rotation, and highly-regarded prospects like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez getting starts, it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Roark doesn’t get the recognition he might deserve for the work he’s done over the last few seasons.
Baker said he figured Roark was probably okay with that.
“I don’t think he really cares,” the Nats’ skipper explained. “Really we just want the victories and it would be fine with us if they didn’t take notice and then he can surprise them, but soon here he’s not going to be surprising anybody, because everybody knows what he’s done, everybody has stats, everybody has video and so we just want more of the same.”
• We talked about Roark’s outing vs the Phillies; Baker’s bullpen decisions and more:
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