Back-to-back wins in his last two outings had Tanner Roark feeling confident after an up and down start to the 2017 campaign.
Last time out before Saturday night, Roark went seven strong against the D-Backs in Arizona, giving up three hits and two earned runs, and striking out 11 batters in what ended up a 4-3 win.
“Confidence-wise I feel through the roof,” Roark told reporters after the game in Chase Field.
“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,” he said, “you’ve just got to keep going and keep making your pitches.”
“His command, and his poise, and demeanor on the mound,” Dusty Baker said, talking about the positive signs he was seeing.
“He doesn’t look worried. He was looking worried before, you know what I mean.”
“It looked like Tanner’s back, big time,” Baker added.
In his second start of the season against the Colorado Rockies, after holding them to five hits, four walks, and two earned runs in five innings in Coors Field in late April, Roark gave up two runs early in Nationals Park, walking Carlos Gonzalez to start the top of the second in front of Trevor Story, who hit a 2-2 slider over the GEICO sign in right-center field, 2-0.
Roark was up to 50 pitches total after the second, but an eight-pitch 1-2-3 third kept his pitch count reasonably low before a 22-pitch fourth, in which he worked around a one-out single, and a two-out intentional walk, pushed him up to 80 pitches after four.
DJ LeMahieu took the fourth walk of the night from Roark with one down in the fifth, and scored from first on a two-out double to left by Gerardo Parra, on the 99th pitch from the Nationals’ right-hander. Mark Reynolds hit the 103rd pitch from Roark off the wall in right field for the second consecutive RBI double, 4-0, and Roark was up to 109 pitches total and done for the night after five.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 66 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
“He was wild wide off the plate, and every time he would try to go away it would be off the plate,” Baker told reporters after what ended up a 4-2 loss.
“And the at bat that Story had — he was on him the whole at bat, and that was to his credit -- to Story’s credit — and so just tonight his pitch count got high, I don’t know how many walks he had, he probably had four walks, which was quite a bit for him, so he just wasn’t sharp tonight.”
“The walks definitely hurt today but overall I felt pretty good,” Roark told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
Meanwhile, Rockies’ starter German Marquez was perfect through 5 1⁄3 before a Matt Wieters’ single started a rally for the Nationals, who got a double from Howie Kendrick in his first at bat with the Nats, and a two-out, two-run single by Wilmer Difo, 4-2.
Marquez ended up going seven innings, giving up just three hits and two runs, striking out 10 without walking a batter in a 99-pitch effort in which he earned his ninth win, (W, 9-2).
“He had a very good breaking ball tonight,” Baker said of the Rockies’ starter, “and he was throwing it over for strikes early, and then late he was bouncing it, and then he was getting strike one, he had pretty good command of his fastball, which [is] a high velocity fastball, I mean, he threw the ball great tonight, so nothing against our hitters, it was just he was dealing tonight.”
Roark fell to (8-7) with the loss, with a 4.93 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 44 walks (3.34 BB/9), and 104 Ks (7.89 K/9) after 20 starts and 118 2⁄3 innings pitched.