Things were going so well. Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run home run in the first and tripled before scoring on a sac fly in the seventh, and the Washington Nationals took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth as they tried for a three-game road sweep of the New York Mets in Citi Field, only to have normally reliable reliever Ryan Madson give up five hits and four runs as the home team rallied for a nine-run eighth and an 11-5 win in the series finale.
Roark in New Yoark: Tanner Roark got knocked around when he faced the New York Mets in the nation’s capital earlier this month, giving up five hits (two home runs, one a grand slam), four walks (including three in a row before the slam), and five earned runs over a five-inning, 100-pitch outing.
Tonight in Citi Field, the 31-year-old right-hander, who was (7-2) with a 3.13 ERA in 18 games (12 of them starts) and 83 1⁄3 IP against the Mets in his career going in, took the mound in the bottom of the first with a 3-0 lead, courtesy of a three-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman, and started with three scoreless and hitless on 42 pitches.
Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to right to start the Mets fourth, however, and scored after a walk to Todd Frazier, on an RBI single to right by Adrian Gonzalez, 3-1.
Roark got a grounder to first out of Jose Lobaton in the next at bat, but Ryan Zimmerman, trying for a double play, threw wide of second, allowing a run to score without an out, E:3, 3-2 Nationals. Brandon Nimmo took a fastball to the hip, loading them up with one down, but Roark got a 6-4-3 DP out of Amed Rosario to bring an end to a 25-pitch frame that saw him barking demonstratively at home plate ump Tom Woodring over a few close pitches that were called balls.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, and 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left the right-hander at 90 pitches total on the night, with nine straight outs going back to the hit-by-pitch on Nimmo in the fourth.
Roark returned to the mound in the seventh, and retired the side in order on 13 pitches to finish his night at 103 pitches overall.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 103 P, 61 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
Harper in Flushing, Queens: After going 0 for 2 with two walks in last night’s win, Nationals’ right fielder Bryce Harper was 17 for 56 (.304/.482/.750) on the season, leading the majors with eight home runs, 23 walks, and 18 RBIs (tied), and he was ranked first in the NL in runs scored, with 17, SLG (.750), and OPS (1st, 1.232), and second in OBP (.482).
Harper took his 24th walk of the season in his first trip to the plate, after a Howie Kendrick hit, putting two runners on in front of Ryan Zimmerman (3 for 23 w/ RISP), who got to 3-2, and crushed a changeup up in the zone, sending a three-run blast into the left field seats, giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead in the first. Zimmerman’s second of 2018. #TKCHZ
Most home runs against the Mets among active players:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 18, 2018
1. Chase Utley (39)
2. Giancarlo Stanton (35)
3. Ryan Zimmerman (23)
T4. Bryce Harper (22)
T4. Albert Pujols (22) pic.twitter.com/FqyghtRQkj
Harper grounded out the second time up, (0 for 1, BB), K’d swinging in at bat No. 3 in the sixth, (0 for 2, BB), and grounded out weakly to second in the ninth, (0 for 3, BB).
Mets’ Matz: Mets’ lefty Steven Matz started the series finale with a 1.85 ERA in five starts and 34 IP against the Nationals in his career, over which he held Nats’ hitters to a combined .207 AVG, striking out 28 (7.41 K/9).
Matz held Washington to three hits, two walks, and one unearned run in five innings of work when he pitched in the nation’s capital earlier this month.
Tonight, he took on the Mets’ NL East rivals at home in Flushing, Queens, NY.
Matz gave up three hits, a walk, and three runs, on Ryan Zimmerman’s second home run of the season, in what ended up being a 33-pitch first.
He settled in after that, however, with ten straight outs following Zim’s homer and a single that followed in the next at bat, getting him through the fourth on 74 pitches (with six Ks).
That was it for Matz, who was hit for with two on and one out in the bottom of the fourth as the Mets rallied against Tanner Roark.
Steven Matz’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 74 P, 46 S, 5/0 GO/FO.
BULLPEN ACTION!!!: Paul Sewald took over on the mound for Matz in the fifth, and tossed a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame to keep it a one-run game, then came back out for the sixth and retired the side in order again, in another 11-pitch inning. Combined with 10-straight retired by Matz, the Mets were up to 16-straight batters set down after the top of the sixth inning.
Sewald and the Mets’ streak ended on a soft liner to right off Ryan Zimmerman’s bat that Jay Bruce dove for and missed. Zimmerman scored from third after his second triple of 2018 on a sac fly to center by Moises Sierra, 4-2 Nationals.
Mets’ righty A.J. Ramos tossed a quick, scoreless eighth for the Mets.
A-PEN?: Ryan Madson got the eighth inning tonight, with the Nationals up, 4-2, and gave up back-to-back-to-back singles by Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera, who lined a single to right for the third straight hit, loading them up with no one out.
One out later, Todd Frazier hit a two-run single to center to tie the game at 4-4.
Madson threw a high two-strike fastball by Wilmer Flores for out No. 2, but Juan Lagares took a 96 mph 2-1 fastball by first base for a two-run double and 6-4 lead.
Sammy Solis took over for Madson and walked the first batter he faced, loading them back up, and a second straight walk made it 7-4 Mets.
Davey Martinez went to A.J. Cole with the bases loaded and two out, and the right-hander gave up a grand slam by Yoenis Cespedes on an 0-2 fastball that landed somewhere deep in the left field seats, 11-4.
Seth Lugo gave up a two-out homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth, 11-5. That got ugly, quickly. On to LA...
Final Score: 11-5 Mets
Nationals now 9-10