Tanner Roark gave up four hits and one earned run in seven innings on the mound in AT&T Park when he faced the Giants during the Washington Nationals’ recent four-game set in San Francisco.
"Tanner was outstanding,” Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters after the 4-2 win in the Giants’ home.
“He was throwing quite a few breaking balls which isn't really him too much,” Baker said, “and he got out of a couple jams with runners on third, less than two outs and that's big when you do that.”
That outing was Roark’s fifth start and sixth appearance in the month of July.
He finished the month (3-1) with the Nationals 5-1 in his outings, over which he put up a 2.97 ERA and a .222/.285/.294 line against in 36 ⅓ IP.
“I think he’s returning to where he was two years ago when he won 15 games,” Dusty Baker told reporters after Roark beat the Giants to improve to (10-6) on the season.
“He’s on that same pace now.”
Roark followed that outing up with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, battling through a start in which he wasn’t particularly sharp to earn the decision.
“That’s Tanner,” Baker said. “That’s vintage Tanner. He’s a battler, he doesn’t give in.”
“Had good command for the most part,” Roark said when he spoke about the win.
“I used a lot of offspeed, which — curveball, slider, everything was working well. Changeup was working well too.”
In his second start against the Giants in a little over a week, Roark tossed seven scoreless this afternoon in Nationals Park to come out on top in a pitchers’ duel opposite Madison Bumgarner.
Roark gave up five hits and three walks, had two runners on in three straight innings between the third and fifth and ran into trouble again in the seventh when a walk and an error put two on again, but Roark worked his way out of each situation (with some help from Ben Revere in the seventh) and kept it scoreless long enough for Wilson Ramos to come through with a big go-ahead home run that was the difference.
It could have been a different game, however, if not for Revere’s catch on a Brandon Belt fly to the warning track in center that the Nationals’ center fielder somehow caught up to and caught with his back to home plate.
“Amazing,” Roark said after the game when asked about Revere’s effort.
“Over the head, straight over the head, at the warning track, up against the wall, pretty unbelievable catch.”
“That was a Willie Mays catch right there and, boy, that was big,” Dusty Baker added.
Two pitches after Revere’s game-changing catch, Ramos hit one out to right-center to put the Nationals up, 1-0, and that lead held up.
“That was really all [Tanner] needed,” Baker said.
“He pitched out of trouble all day. He left, I think, nine men on base, but he made the pitches when he had to.
“There were couple baserunners at second or third and less than two outs and he managed to pop them up or strike them out...
“This guy — he continues to — he’s not amazing us anymore, we’ve kind of come to expect it.”
“He got in trouble with a couple of untimely walks,” Baker added, “and a couple of breaking balls that didn’t get into the zone, but like I said, he made those pitches.
“He really bears down in that situation.
“They helped us over there because they haven’t really — other than yesterday — they’ve had a rough time with runners in scoring positions which is — I kind of feel for them a little bit — because we’ve been in that same situation.”
“I didn’t want to get beat, you know, with my best stuff,” Roark said when asked about working into and out of trouble.
“I wanted to go out there and throw the right pitch and execute it and be aggressive in the zone and not be afraid of giving up a hit or walking somebody.”
Roark rose to the challenge of facing Bumgarner and came out on top in the end.
“[Bumgarner] always does well,” Roark said. “He pitches into the sixth, seventh, eighth as you saw today. He’s always aggressive and he’s one of the top pitchers in the game so going against that gives me an extra boost that I want to go out there and do the same and not get beat.”
Roark didn’t get beat... and the Nationals took two of three in the weekend set and four of seven in the season series with the Giants.