Tanner Roark threw 100+ pitches in four consecutive starts heading into last night’s outing, and he’d gone up to 121 once previously in his career, in a 15 K start against the Minnesota Twins last season, but in the series open with Arizona’s Diamondbacks, Dusty Baker took the right-hander up to 125 pitches over seven innings.
Roark was up to 33 pitches after one, and 52 after two, and Baker sent him back out for the sixth at 100 pitches even and left him out to face four batters in a 25-pitch frame in which he worked around a one-out walk.
“We didn’t like taking Tanner up that high in pitches,” Baker told reporters after the 6-3 loss, but the bullpen was short and he stuck with his right-hander as long as he could, even after Roark issued the walk in the sixth inning of what was a one-run game in the D-Backs’ favor at the time.
Roark struck out Diamondbacks’ infielder Brandon Drury and catcher Chris Herrmann to wrap up his outing.
D-Backs’ batters were able to run up his pitch count by fouling off pitches throughout his time on the mound, which Roark admitted was a little frustrating.
“There’s a little frustration, but you can’t do anything about it,” Roark told reporters.
“They’re trying not to get out and they just keep battling with good pitches and spitting on good pitches, so it is what it is.
“You can’t get frustrated or show them that you’re mad or upset or anything like that, you just have to keep going out there and keep attacking.”
“Tanner is known to throw strikes,” Baker explained, “but it started in the first inning, they fouled off a whole bunch of pitches and I think he had like 50 pitches in the first two innings and that didn’t fare too well for going deep in the game.”
“I was surprised that they fouled off that many pitches,” Baker continued, “because they hit the ball out of the ballpark and they also strike out.
“Evidently they were seeing the ball pretty good today. Everybody’s pitch count was up, it was a pitch-count-up-day, I guess.”
So what did Tanner do to react to the D-Backs wasting his pitches?
“Nothing. You’ve got to keep your confidence level there and keep battling,” Roark said.
“They’re doing the same thing at the plate, so you can’t give in and so I that’s what I was trying to do the whole entire game.
“I wasn’t on point, I felt like I was nibbling a bit in the beginning. I mean, granted, they were fouling stuff off, but it’s part of the game and just try to grind it out.”
Roark said he was happy that Baker showed confidence in him and let him stay in the game as long as he did in spite of the pitch count.
“I knew it was pretty high when I came out in the fifth, but I didn’t know I threw 125, but felt good, still feel good,” Roark said.
“Body felt great. I’m very happy that Dusty let me go in there and finishing the inning, and I’m sure Herrmann was the last guy I was going to face, but I wanted to get that last guy and it builds confidence in me and I’m glad he has the confidence in me to finish the inning.”
Blake Treinen gave up a run in the seventh after he took over on the mound, and Joe Blanton gave up a solo home run in the ninth, as the D-Backs took the series opener, 6-3, and handed Roark his first loss in six starts.
How will the right-hander react next time out? After he threw 121 pitches, and struck out 15 Twins’ hitters last April, he tossed seven scoreless against Philadelphia.