Tanner Roark has struggled in the early goings of this season, but he was able to give the Washington Nationals seven innings of one-run ball Wednesday to lead them to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Trea Turner stole a pair of bases and Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer as the Nationals pushed five runs across in the first two innings.
The Nats would be unable to score again the rest of the game, but it would be all they needed as Roark put together one of his best performances of the season behind nine ground ball outs.
Enny Romero and Shawn Kelley combined to put up a zero on the scoreboard in the eighth and Koda Glover pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to hand the Nationals a series win.
Washington now 28-17.
Here’s how it happened:
• Tanner Roark entered Wednesday’s contest having allowed 11 earned runs combined between his previous two starts. His 4.73 ERA was the highest among the team’s four qualified starters and his 3.7 BB/9 the worst mark in his career.
The Mariners were able to scrape across a run off him in the first. Kyle Seager took a 2-0 fastball in on his hands and smacked it into center field for a one-out double. Right behind him came Robinson Cano, who singled in front of Jayson Werth in left to give Seattle an early 1-0 lead.
• The Nats came up to bat in the bottom half of the inning with rookie starter Sam Gaviglio on the mound for the Mariners. Trea Turner led off the frame with a grounder to Jean Segura, whose throw to first forced Danny Valencia to jump and pull his foot off the bag just in enough time for Turner to reach base.
After Turner stole second, Werth walked and Bryce Harper flew out to right to put runners on the corners for Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman hit a sacrifice fly into right to tie the game at 1-1. The score wouldn’t remain locked for long, however, as Daniel Murphy followed with a double and Anthony Rendon cleared the bases with his third home run of the series to put the Nats ahead 4-1.
• Michael Taylor led off the bottom of the second for the Nats with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line that Seager was unable to get ahold of. Roark then laid down a bunt of his own to put Taylor in scoring position and Turner hit an RBI single to make it a 5-1 ballgame.
Turner would then steal second base for the second straight inning. Harper was intentionally walked with two outs to bring up Zimmerman with an RBI opportunity, but the Nats’ first baseman grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
• Roark got into a jam in the second after putting runners on first and second with one out, but he got out it unscathed. He would then settle in, retiring eight of ten batters faced between the third and fifth innings including a pair of strikeouts and a double play ball.
The Nats’ righty found himself in trouble in the top of the sixth, giving up back-to-back one-out singles to Valencia and Ben Gamel. Roark was unfazed, however, forcing Guillermo Heredia to ground into a fielder’s choice and striking out Mike Zunino swinging.
• Despite keeping the line moving against him early, the Nats were unable to muster much off Gaviglio after the second inning. The rookie right-hander allowed just two more hits through the sixth before Seattle manager Scott Servais opted to go to his bullpen for the seventh.
• Sam Gaviglio’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 73 P, 53 S, 8/3 GO/FO
• Roark would outlast his opposing starter, taking the mound for the top of the seventh at 92 pitches. He wouldn’t run into any trouble in his final frame of the evening, forcing Jarrod Dyson to ground out then freezing both Boog Powell and Segura with well-placed fastballs to strike them out looking.
• Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 102 P, 67 S, 9/0 GO/FO
• Servais sent Edwin Diaz to the mound to handle the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Wilmer Difo led off with a walk then stole second an out later. Harper was intentionally walked after Werth fouled out, once again bringing up Zimmerman with two runners on and two outs. He was unable to capitalize, however, and the game went into the eighth inning with the score still 5-1.
• Enny Romero got the call to start the eighth, reaching triple digits with his fastball to sandwich a Cano single between two outs hit right at Harper. Nats manager Dusty Baker then pulled Romero in favor of Shawn Kelley to face the right-handed Taylor Motter. He needed just three pitches to force another flyout to Harper and give the Nats one last chance at padding their lead before the ninth.
• Washington would be unable to do push any runs across, but Matt Wieters beat the shift with a single into right to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
• Rookie “closer” Koda Glover was brought in to handle the final frame with the Nationals up by four. He handled things easily, striking out Zunino and forcing a pair of groundouts for a clean 1-2-3 frame. The win gave the Nats a series victory and put them 11 games over .500.