Winless in his last four starts heading into tonight’s series opener with Pittsburgh’s Pirates, Tanner Roark was coming off a six-inning outing against the San Francisco Giants which saw him give up six hits, two walks, and four earned runs in a 105-pitch effort in AT&T Park.
Roark struggled to locate his curve against the Giants, spiking one for a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the first, and hanging two that got hit for home runs.
“It didn’t have that bite,” Roark told reporters after the start in what ended up a 4-3 loss.
“There were a couple curveballs that I threw that were good, were what I wanted, but the two that I gave up the home runs were just up and didn’t have that extra bite on it.”
Roark took the mound tonight (1-2) on the year with a 3.77 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 11 walks (3.19 BB/9), 28 Ks (8.13 K/9), and a .180/.266/.345 line against in 31 IP.
He tossed four scoreless on just 49 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but gave up back-to-back, two-out hits in the fifth, with the opposing pitcher, Jameson Taillon, connecting with a 2-1 fastball up in the zone and lining it to left-center for an RBI double to drive in the Pirates’ first run, 3-1.
Corey Dickerson hit a 3-2 fastball into the second deck in right field for a solo homer in the first at bat of the seventh, but Roark recorded the next two outs, and after a visit from Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez, made it through the inning and left the mound up, 3-2. That’s how it ended.
And he drove in a run tonight. pic.twitter.com/b48ov383aY— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 1, 2018
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 105 P, 64 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
So what was the conversation about when Martinez went out to the mound to check on the starter?
“I just went out there and asked him, ‘Hey, what do you got for me?’” Martinez said. Roark’s response?
“‘I can get this guy out,’” Martinez told reporters. “I looked at [Matt] Wieters, I said, ‘Can he?’ and Wieters says, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Alright, it’s your guy, let’s go.’ Boom.
“He threw it 93 a couple pitches that at bat, so a good day, a good all-around day.”
“I was looking at him the whole time, and I just didn’t want him to motion to the bullpen,” Roark joked when he spoke to reporters after the game.
“I don’t know, he was just coming to check on how I was feeling, and I told him I felt good.”
Asked if he appreciated being able to make his case for remaining in the game, Roark said it did provide a confidence boost.
“It brings confidence to you,” he explained. “I think the first pitch I threw was the hardest pitch [of the] night. I don’t know, it’s just the confidence that they have in us gives a boost.”
With the bullpen taxed over the last few days, Roark said it was important to give the team as much length as possible.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I knew they were a good hitting team, and I knew they were aggressive. Just trying to keep them off-balance, and feeling uncomfortable at the plate. Sinker was working really well tonight, I felt like everything was working very well, Wieters called a great game, a lot of sliders and cutters to lefties, which is — I’m finding a good feel for it, which is awesome, so just another pitch that they have to worry about.”
Roark snapped a four-start winless streak in the outing, and improved to (2-2) in six starts, with a 3.55 ERA, a 4.74 FIP, 13 walks (3.08 BB/9), and 32 Ks (7.58 K/9) in 38 innings.