Going into to Sunday’s start, Tanner Roark had just one win in his last eight outings (seven of them starts), in spite of the fact that he’d put up respectable numbers over that stretch (3.69 ERA, .238/.304/.407 line against in 46 1⁄3 IP).
His teammates weren’t exactly helping him in those games, of course.
Even with an 11-run game two starts back, the 31-year-old still had the fifth-lowest average run support per outing among National League pitchers when Washington took the field in Toronto looking to avoid a sweep in the finale of the three-game set with the Blue Jays.
Roark told reporters after the Nationals’ 3-0 loss to the Yankees in New York in his last start before facing the Jays, that he didn’t allow himself to think about the lack of support.
“It happens,” Roark said. “I stay optimistic. I’m not going to let it get to me. I’m just going to pitch my game, and go out there every time I go out there and give it all I can until I’m out of the game.
“I just stay optimistic. Once you let the bad thoughts creep in your head, then it just goes downhill from there, so continue to work hard and trust it, have faith.”
Roark received three runs of support early Sunday afternoon, but gave up a solo home run to left on a first-pitch fastball inside that Randal Grichuk lined over the wall in the second, and the Nationals’ starter threw 39 pitches in a long third as the Blue Jays rallied to tie things up at 3-3, with one run scoring on an RBI double to left by Kevin Pillar and the tying run coming in on a bases-loaded walk which made it 3-3.
The Blue Jays left the bases loaded in the third, but Roark ended up at 77 pitches overall after three, and a 14-pitch fourth ended his day.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 97 P, 61 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
“He had 94 pitches and you could tell that it just wasn’t his day,” Davey Martinez said after what ended up an 8-6 loss.
“I wasn’t going to leave him out there any longer, and I‘ve got a lot of confidence in our bullpen, but today they just couldn’t hold it together, but it happens.”
“I stunk today,” Roark said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Didn’t really have much working for me.”
He got support again, and the Nationals fought to tie it up twice before Ryan Madson, who hadn’t allowed a homer in over a year, gave up two of them, in back-to-back at bats in the bottom of the eighth.
“We hit very, very well today. We played defense well,” Roark told reporters, including the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes. “Just one of those series, tough series.”
Martinez said he planned to talk to Roark about the outing, but was giving him some time.
“I haven’t talked to him yet about it. I’ll wait till tomorrow. But his stuff was coming out okay, his location was just a little off.”