Bryce Harper homered for the third time in the last two days in the top of the second inning, putting the Washington Nationals up 5-0 after they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, and Tanner Roark held the Atlanta Braves to one run on four hits over seven innings of work in a strong 2018 debut in what ended up an 8-1 win in SunTrust Park.
Roark’s Turn: In Washington’s three-game, season-opening sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in Great American Ball Park, Nationals’ starters were a combined 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA (3 ER in 18 1⁄3 innings) 24 Ks, and just three walks allowed.
Tanner Roark was fourth in line. He took the mound tonight, in the series opener with the Atlanta Braves in SunTrust Park with a 2-0 lead and tossed a quick, 15-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, and it was 5-0 before he took the mound for the second.
A 15-pitch third pushed Roark up to 38 pitches after three scoreless, but Ender Inciarte hit a single to start the Braves’ fourth, stole second base one out later, and scored on an RBI single to center by Freddie Freeman, who hit a 2-0 fastball to drive in Atlanta’s first run, 5-1.
With the score 6-1 Nationals in the fifth, Roark ran into trouble, with a one-out leadoff single by Preston Tucker and an error by left fielder Howie Kendrick on a catchable fly to the track in left-center putting runners on second and third with no one out. Roark got the first out on a 1-2 curve to Ryan Flaherty, who K’d swinging, and got a grounder back to the mound off of Chris Stewart’s bat, allowing the Nationals to tag Tucker after a rundown for out No. 2 of the inning before pinch hitter Lane Adams ended the threat with a groundout to short.
- - pic.twitter.com/pB4h3LdB1F— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 3, 2018
Roark worked around a two-out walk to Freeman in an 18-pitch sixth, came back out for the seventh at 86 pitches, and retired the side in order in a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that ended his outing.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 93 P, 62 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Turner Field: Trea Turner has always hit well against the Braves. Turner, 24, started tonight’s series in Atlanta 50 for 124 (.403 AVG) with eight doubles, two triples, nine home runs, and 33 runs scored in 31 career games against the Braves.
He hasn’t, however, been quite as dominant in SunTrust Park as he was in Turner Field.
Turner put up a .390/.422/.854 line in 45 plate appearances in the former home of the Nats’ NL East rivals.
In 27 PAs in the Braves’ new ballpark last summer, the Nationals’ shortstop put up a not-as-gaudy-but-still-good .308/.333/.500 line with two doubles and a home run in six games.
Turner reached on an error by Freddie Freeman in his first trip to the plate tonight, and took third on an errant pickoff throw by starter Sean Newcomb, before scoring on a grounder to short by Anthony Rendon, 1-0 Nationals early.
Turner finished the night 1 for 5 with a walk and a run scored.
Newcomb: Braves’ left-hander Sean Newcomb issued back-to-back, one-out walks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman later in the first, and an RBI double by Howie Kendrick (that hit the bricks in the right field fence and bounced back far enough to make things interesting at home), made it 2-0 before the southpaw got out of a 36-pitch opening frame.
Bryce, Bryce, Harper, Harper: Bryce Harper’s third home run in two days was a no-doubter to center off Sean Newcomb in the top of the second, and it was a three-run blast that put the Nats ahead, 5-0. Harp connected on a 94 mph first-pitch fastball and sent it to straight center for his 3rd of 2018.
"#OV3RR4TED" pic.twitter.com/Ot3FP01zwG— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 3, 2018
With the home run, Harper extended his hit streak against the Braves to 15-straight games going back to 9/18/16.
Pedro’s back!!: Pedro Severino singled in his first at bat, after being called up this afternoon when Matt Wieters (oblique) was placed on the DL, walked in his second trip to the plate in the third, then stepped in with the bases loaded and two down in the fifth, after the Braves walked Wilmer Difo intentionally to get to him, and beat out a grounder to short, arriving at the first base bag just ahead of a throw from Dansby Swanson. RBI single, 6-1 Nationals.
Sean Newcomb’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 97 P, 61 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Bullpen Action: After Tanner Roark went seven strong on 93 pitches, Shawn Kelley made his 2018 debut with a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 8th.
Braves’ righty Jose Ramirez loaded the bases with a one-out walk, single, and HBP, and Brian Goodwin singled to drive in two runs and put the Nationals up, 8-1, in the ninth.
Matt Grace took the mound in the home-half of the ninth and finished off Atlanta.
Final Score: 8-1 Nationals
Nationals now 4-0