With just one win over his last eight outings, and with the Nationals 2-6 in those starts, Tanner Roark, who’d put up a 3.68 ERA and a .205/.280/.373 line against in 51 1⁄3 innings pitched in that stretch, took the mound in Miami on Saturday afternoon trying to lead Washington to their second straight win over the Marlins in the series and their 10th straight overall vs the Fish going back to last season.
Roark had been over 100 pitches in seven of nine outings this season, and he threw a season-high 117 last time out before facing the Marlins, in a seven-inning start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Davey Martinez told reporters after that game he was comfortable with the right-hander’s high pitch count.
“I think, one, I like to give them the opportunity to win a ballgame, and two, I think these guys can do it, I really do, and right now they’re showing me that, and he was fresh. Last inning he was throwing 92-93, so that’s a good indication that he still had a lot left in the tank.”
Roark was sharp early against Miami on Saturday afternoon, working around an infield single by J.T. Realmuto that was the only hit through three scoreless in Marlins Park.
The Fish catcher got him again in the fourth, doubling to left field on a 2-2 change to lead off the inning before scoring one out later on an opposite field single by Brian Anderson, 1-0.
After receiving just four runs of support in his last three starts combined, Roark, who was winless in those outings, got nothing through seven on Saturday, but his teammates got him off the hook, with Wilmer Difo homering to left to tie it in the top of the eighth, before Mark Reynolds’ hit a homer in the ninth as part of a three-run inning in what ended up a 4-1 win.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 111 P, 71 S, 10/3 GO/FO.
“It’s very important to come through when it’s clutch time, and we’ve been doing that, we showed it today, and it [was] a good win today,” Roark said after the game, and he added that he wasn’t concerned about the lack of run support in his last few starts.
“It’ll make me a better pitcher in the long run,” he explained.
“You can’t worry about that. I trust that these guys will get the job done day in and day out, so you’ve just got to go out there and do your job and not give in and just give everything you have.”
Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly was impressed with what he saw from the Nationals’ starter.
“This guy is a handful in a different way than like [Max] Scherzer,” Mattingly said.
“You’re not going to see the same type stuff as far as velocities, and all the strikeouts and things like that, but he’s a handful from the standpoint of moving the ball both sides of the plate, he can run it in, his slider away, curveball, changeup, can run it in off a lefty, run that little run-back, and then off of working the outside, so he’s a handful from that standpoint, that he gives you a lot of looks. There’s a lot of things to think about with him, and we pushed his pitch count up, we weren’t really able to break through.”
“Tanner pitched unbelievable,” Martinez told reporters after the win.
“He kept us in the ballgame, tried to keep him in there to see if we could get a win for him.
“Difo got him out of a loss just by hitting a home run, but he pitched, again, phenomenal.”
On the season, Roark’s still (2-4), with a 3.17 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 19 walks (2.62 BB/9), 58 Ks (7.99 K/9) in 65 1⁄3 IP.