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Nationals sweep two-game set with Rays, 11-2 final: Washington takes advantage of Tampa Bay’s depleted pitching...

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With a five-run first and four-run sixth, the Nationals ran away with the second of two with the Rays, sweeping the short two-game set in D.C.

Photo used with permission of rights holder.

Tampa Bay’s “opener” experiment to try to piece together today’s outing (with a number of their “starters” injured) did not go well. Jonny Venters, who started for the Rays in the finale in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park, didn’t make it out of the first as the Nationals scored five in the bottom of the inning, and though lefty Ryan Yarbrough gave them some length, he gave up 10 hits and five runs, four earned, over 5 13 IP as the Nats took the series finale, 11-2, sweeping the quick, two-game set in the nation’s capital.

Roark vs the Rays: Tanner Roark gave up seven hits, five walks, and four earned runs in 6 23 IP against the Atlanta Braves during his start in the series in SunTrust Park. He told reporters after the outing that he clearly wasn’t at his best, with the hits and walks both season highs.

“It was one of those grinders,” Roark said. “Just left it all out there.”

The last month-plus has been a bit of a grind for the right-hander, who’s put up a 3.67 ERA, 11 walks, 29 Ks, and a .232/.307/.376 line against in 34 13 IP, going winless in six games and five starts over that stretch.

Roark tossed three scoreless to start this afternoon’s series finale with Tampa Bay, and even drove in a run in the first with a two-out RBI single, but the visiting Rays got on the board in the fourth, with Brad Miller doubling to right with two down and scoring on an RBI single by Carlos Gomez that made it 6-1 Nationals.

C.J. Cron crushed a 2-2 changeup from Roark in the fifth, banging a two-out home run off the left field foul pole, 6-2. Cron’s 13th of 2018.

After working around a one-out double in a 13-pitch sixth, Roark was done for the day.

Tanner Roark’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 84 P, 55 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

Venters’ First MLB Start: “I’m excited,” Jonny Venters told reporters, as quoted by Tampa Bay Times’ writer Marc Topkin, after learning that he’d make his first major league start in today’s series finale with the Nationals.

Venters, who’s undergone three Tommy John surgeries, is in the majors again after a six-year absence.

“I’m going to treat it like I do every other outing, this time it just happens to be in the first inning. Try to go out there and get some guys out. And that’s about it.”

Venters did ... not get off to a good start, with the first three batters reaching base.

Trea Turner singled, took second on a walk by Bryce Harper, and scored (along with Harper) on a two-run double to left field by Anthony Rendon, 2-0.

Rendon scored too, after a one-out walk by Juan Soto, when Michael A. Taylor took Venters’ 23rd, and final, pitch to right for an RBI double, 3-0.

Birthday Boy Rendon: Anthony Rendon turned 28 today, and celebrated by driving in two runs with a double the first time up, singling and scoring in his second at bat, and, after a liner to deep center in his third trip to the plate, the Nationals’ third baseman doubled to drive in yet another run in the sixth, 3 for 4, 3 RBIs. Happy Birthday.

He picked up his fourth hit on an 0-1 curve from lefty Jose Alvarado in the bottom of the eighth.

BULLPEN ACTION: Ryan Yarbrough was first out of the bullpen for the Rays, and he got one out, then walked Pedro Severino intentionally, loading the bases in front of Tanner Roark, who worked the count full and hit a two-run single to right field to make it 5-0 Nats in the first.

Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and Michael A. Taylor singled off Yarbrough in the second, with Taylor’s a two-out RBI hit that put the Nationals up 6-0.

Yarbrough did the yeoman’s work as the Rays tried to chip away at the Nationals’ lead, and he did manage to keep the Nats off the board between the third and fifth, and he was still on the mound for the sixth, but the Nationals added two runs on RBI doubles by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, 8-2.

Michael A. Taylor battled Yarbrough for ten pitches in his two-out at bat in the sixth, fouling off four two-strike pitches before lining an opposite field single to right to drive Soto in and make it 9-2 Nationals.

Taylor stole third base with Sergio Romo on the mound in the next at bat, and scored on an errant throw to third, 10-2. Romo did. not. like. that. and he let the Nationals know as he left the field and even when he was back in the dugout.

Justin Miller got the seventh for the Nationals, and threw a 12-pitch, nine-strike, 1-2-3 frame.

Wander Suero worked around a two-out walk to Wilson Ramos in a scoreless, 21-pitch top of the eighth.

Anthony Rendon singled for his fourth hit of the day and came around to score on a passed ball to make it 11-2 Nationals in the bottom of the eighth.

Matt Grace returned to the mound in the majors, after coming off the DL yesterday, and got the final three outs.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 11-2 Nationals

Nationals now 35-25