With two earned runs or fewer allowed in three of four outings before Tuesday’s start in San Francisco, Washington Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark was off to a good start in 2018, but he was winless in his previous three outings before taking the mound in AT&T Park.
Roark gave up two hits, three walks, and two runs, both of them earned, over seven innings on the mound against the New York Mets in Citi Field before taking on the Giants, but the Nationals’ bullpen struggled that night, surrendering a total of nine runs in the home-half of the eighth inning in what ended up an 11-5 loss.
“He competed. He got better as the game went on. He did exactly what we needed, we just couldn’t finish,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the game.
That outing left the 31-year-old right-hander (1-1) in four starts with a 3.24 ERA, a 4.04 FIP, nine walks (3.24 BB/9), 24 Ks (8.64 K/9), and a .159/.245/.299 line against in 25 IP.
Going into the game against the Giants, Roark was (6-0) with a 2.02 ERA overall over seven starts against San Francisco, and (4-0) with a 1.00 ERA in four starts.
With a little help from some questionable calls on balls and strikes by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, the Giants loaded the bases with two down in the bottom of the first, scoring one on a wild pitch, 1-0, and forcing Roark to throw 32 pitches total in the inning.
Roark’s 60th pitch of the night was a hanging, 3-2 curve to Brandon Belt that the Giants’ first baseman sent out to right for a two-out, two-run home run that put the home team ahead, 3-0 in the third.
Michael A. Taylor tied it up with one swing, however, hitting a three-run blast to right in the top of the fourth to make it 3-3, and Roark added two scoreless to get through five innings on 95 pitches, and he came back out for the sixth and recorded two quick outs, but pitch No. 101 of the night was a hanging curve to Mac Williamson that the Giants’ outfielder hit out to center to make it a 4-3 game in San Francisco’s favor.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 60 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
Should Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez sent Roark back out for the sixth with his pitch count as high as it was after he’d labored early and then settled in over the first five?
It didn’t work out, but the first-year manager said he talked to Roark before the sixth and was comfortable he had more to give.
What did he see from his starter as the game went along that allowed him to settle in?
“He started getting the ball down, and he felt good,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ fourth straight loss. He was pitching good. He was cruising there towards the end. I knew he threw a lot of pitches, we talked to him, but he said he was fine, he was good, he felt strong.
“So, he did well, he really did.”
The two big mistakes Roark made, to Belt and Williamson, were not well-located pitches:
As always sir, a great pleasure watching you work— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 25, 2018
#MarvelNight #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/bkvAyO3EF2
#MacAttack— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 25, 2018
“There were a couple curveballs that I threw that were good; that’s what I wanted,” Roark told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the loss.
“The two that I gave up, the home runs, they were just up and kind of didn’t have that extra bite on it.”
“I knew Williamson was swinging first pitch,” Roark added. “Just a bad curveball.”
That one bad curve, on his 101st of 105 pitches, was the difference in the Nationals’ fourth straight loss.