Tanner Roark snapped a five-start (and six appearance) winless streak last time out on the mound, earning the decision in Washington’s 14-4 victory over Cincinnati in Great American Ball Park. Roark gave up four hits, three walks and three runs (none of them earned) in six innings of work in that outing, earning his first win since June 4th in the process.
Over his previous six outings before that win, the 30-year-old righty was (0-4) with the Nationals 0-5 in his starts, in which Roark had an 8.78 ERA, 13 walks, 20 Ks, and a brutal .358/.422/.558 line against in 27 2⁄3 innings pitched.
He finished up the first half with a relief appearance against the Atlanta Braves, which Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker said helped Roark straighten some things out.
“I think that relief stint helped him,” Baker explained after the start against the Reds.
“He came in behind and he threw five or six innings, and he threw the ball excellent that day, and so he can build off of that and I just told him to start his season all over, so he’s 1-0 in the second half and hopefully he can build on that.”
Roark told reporters he felt comfortable on the mound, and had everything working again in Cincinnati.
“I felt like I was able to locate the ball well. Fastball, two-seam was moving, mixing two-seam and four-seam, slider was working, curveball was working,” he said.
“I felt like I could throw any pitch at any time, in any count. So, felt focused out there, felt relaxed and just went out there and did my best.”
Tonight in Arizona, Roark was making his second start of the season against the D-Backs, after giving up six hits, two walks, and four earned runs in a 6-2 loss back on May 2nd in D.C.
That outing saw the Diamondbacks foul off pitch after pitch early, pushing Roark up to 52 pitches after two and 125 overall after six.
Roark took the mound in Chase Field with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Bryce Harper, who hit a solo bomb to right in the top of the first, and gave up a one-out single by A.J. Pollock and two-out RBI double by Chris Iannetta on an 0-1 fastball up in the zone, 1-1.
Nine straight D-Backs’ batters went down after Iannetta’s double, and Roark worked around a two-out walk that ended that streak in the bottom of the fourth, then set down three in a row in the fifth, while picking up his eighth strikeout.
A.J. Pollock jumped on a 1-0 slider up in the zone from Roark, and tripled to center in the sixth, scoring on a groundout in the next at bat to make it 4-2 after the Nationals jumped out to a lead with a three-run top of the sixth inning.
Roark’s 10-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh ended his outing as Baker turned to Ryan Madson with a two-run lead in the eighth.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 103 P, 66 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
Baker talked after the outing about seeing good things from Roark on the mound in Arizona.
“His command, and his poise and demeanor on the mound. He doesn’t look worried. He was looking worried before, you know what I mean,” Baker said.
“And his pitch count stayed relatively — very low, compared to before,” Baker continued.
“He had this many pitches in five innings or six innings, and so it looked like Tanner’s back, big time. And we needed to win that game for us and for him, and it’s a good feeling when one of your guys has that feeling, and you get that feeling and the whole team gets that feeling, and so it’s great to have Tanner throwing the ball again.”
Roark’s off-speed stuff was especially sharp. He got 18 swinging strikes total on the night, eight with his curve, six with his slider, four with his fastball, and two on his changeup, and he threw 53 of 103 pitches for strikes that were not put in play.
“Just attacking,” Roark said when he talked about his off-speed stuff. “Curveball felt good. Been feeling good in the last two starts, and just keep the hitters guessing.”
Another good outing also boosted the right-hander’s confidence.
“Yeah, confidence-wise I feel through the roof,” Roark said, “and just go out there and have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself, and if stuff happens behind you, you can’t let that bother your or affect you, you’ve just got to keep going and keep making your pitches.”