FLUSHING, QUEENS, NY: Washington’s Nationals put the leadoff man on in each of the first six innings tonight, but went just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position through six, scoring just one run when Tanner Roark tripled to right and came in on an RBI double by Wilmer Difo.
Roark gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings, settling in after a three-run first and keeping it a 3-1 game through five, but the Nationals’ bats didn’t generate much against Noah Syndergaard or the New York Mets’ bullpen, and when they did have opportunities they squandered them in what ended up a 4-2 loss.
Roark vs New York: Winless in his last six outings with a 7.76 ERA and a .364/.442/.553 line against in 31 1⁄3 IP in those starts, Tanner Roark was mired in a rough stretch he seemed to be unable to break out of over the last month-plus.
“We’re going to have to sit down and figure this whole thing out with him, because I know he’s better than that and so does he,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after another bad start against Miami last week in D.C.
Did the figure anything out between starts?
Tonight in New York’s Citi Field, Roark came out and gave up back-to-back-to-back singles and a run before recording an out with Jose Bautista’s line drive single to left field driving Brandon Nimmo in, 1-0. A sac fly to left by Wilmer Flores brought Asdrubal Cabrera in, 2-0, and Michael Conforto scored on a two-out liner to center by Devin Mesoraco, 3-0.
Amed Rosario tripled on a belt-high 1-0 fastball outside from Roark in the first at bat of the second, and he scored on an RBI line drive to right by the opposing pitcher, right-hander Noah Syndergaard, 4-0.
Roark managed to keep the Mets there through five, but in spite of the fact that they put the leadoff man on in each of the first five innings, the Nats only had one run to show for it after five innings in Citi Field (and it was Roark who scored it after tripling to start the third inning, and coming home on a Wilmer Difo RBI double).
There were two men on with one out when Roark’s spot came up in the sixth, so Martinez went to the bench for pinch hitter Brian Goodwin who... lined out to left.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 87 P 58 S, 6/3 GO/FO
Syndergaard’s back: After a seven-week DL stint while he dealt with a strained ligament in his right index finger, Noah Syndergaard returned to the mound tonight for his 12th start of 2018.
Over the previous eleven, the 25-year-old right-hander had a 3.06 ERA and a .252/.299/.364 line against in 64 2⁄3 IP. Syndergaard made one minor league rehab start before returning to the Mets’ rotation, striking out seven over five innings in which he gave up a walk, two hits, and one run.
Facing the Nationals tonight, he was going up against a left-heavy line that had only two right-handed hitters (Tanner Roark and Anthony Rendon).
“Tough opponent today” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said before the game.
“Lefties have good [slugging percentage] against him so I thought we’d start off trying to score early, put our best lefties in there and see what happens.”
[ed. note - “Syndergaard’s SLG splits? .382 vs LHB; .346 vs RHB.]
After two scoreless by the Mets’ starter, over which New York jumped out to a 4-0 lead, a leadoff triple by Tanner Roark and an RBI double by Wilmer Difo got the Nationals on the board, 4-1.
The Nationals had the leadoff man in each of the first four innings vs Syndergaard, but only one of those runners came around.
Adam Eaton singled to start the fifth as well, but he and Anthony Rendon, who singled with one down, were both stranded at the end of a 12-pitch frame that ended Syndergaard’s first start off the DL.
When it's Friday the 13th and you DON'T step on a crack to break your momma's back. pic.twitter.com/t7WZlwF7sz— New York Mets (@Mets) July 14, 2018
Noah Syndergaard’s Line: 5.0 P, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 75 P, 49 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
#DifOBP: Before today’s game, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked about Wilmer Difo’s contributions to the lineup and what he brings to the roster.
“Having Difo on this ballclub means a lot to us,” Martinez said.
“He can play multiple positions, even can play outfield for us, hit basically anywhere in the lineup, in-game we can move him around, which his nice. If we want to pinch hit for somebody we can put him in different positions. Having him around too, he’s been clutch for us, he’s knocked in some pretty big runs the first half of the season. I love him. He plays with a lot of energy. He’s the guy in the dugout that’s always screaming for his teammates and cheering people and when he gets a chance to play he goes out there and performs.”
Difo drove in the first run of the game for the Nationals, doubling to right, just inside the line to bring Tanner Roark in after the pitcher tripled (improbably), but Difo then got thrown out on a grounder to short when he broke for third base and was out by a mile for the first out of the Nats’ third.
Only I didn't say "fudge." pic.twitter.com/AJoBFrMrUU— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) July 14, 2018
Eaton Addition: As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes, Adam Eaton was 27 for 87 in 25 games since being reinstated from the disabled list on June 9th heading into the second of four with the Mets tonight, good for a .310 AVG with two doubles, nine RBIs, seven walks, one stolen base, and eight runs scored over that stretch, and he went 2 for 3 against Mets’ right-hander Noah Syndergaard tonight.
BULLPEN ACTION: Seth Lugo walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the sixth, but he stranded both runners three outs later.
Justin Miller worked around a leadoff, ground-rule double and a two-out walk in the bottom of the sixth to keep it a 4-1 game in the Mets’ favor.
Seth Lugo retired the first two batters in the seventh (the first time the Nationals didn’t put the leadoff runner on), and completed a quick, 1-2-3 frame.
Matt Grace tossed a scoreless, 13-pitch seventh, and the Nationals cut into the Mets’ lead in the top of the eighth with Matt Adams lining a 1-0 fastball from Robert Gsellman to right for a no-doubter of a line drive home run that made it a 4-2 game. No. 14 for Adams. And it was crushed.
Shawn Kelley kept it a two-run game with a scoreless, 21-pitch bottom of the eighth.
Gsellman came back out for the ninth and retired the side in order.
Final Score: 4-2 Mets
Nationals now 47-47