Tanner Roark found something. Hopefully he can keep it going. Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee, WI’s Miller Park, the Washington Nationals avoided a sweep in the three-game series with the Brewers, with a 7-3 win in which their 31-year-old right-hander tossed eight scoreless on 106 pitches, striking out a season-high 10 batters as Daniel Murphy (two-run single), Bryce Harper (3-run blast), and Juan Soto (solo HR) provided some run support.
Roark in Milwaukee: Tanner Roark took the mound in Miller Park winless in his last seven starts, with a 7.68 ERA and a .364/.436/.539 line against in 36 1⁄3 IP over the stretch, and Washington’s 31-year-old was trying to help the Nationals avoid getting swept in all three games with the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Though he lasted just five innings in his final start in the first half, on the road in New York’s Citi Field, Roark said he took some positives from the outing, in which he gave up eight hits, two walks, and four earned runs.
“Felt good,” Roark told reporters. “Felt behind the ball which is how I pitch effectively. If the arm is just lagging behind just a hair, then everything is up, so I settled down throughout the second, third, fourth, fifth inning and felt better.”
Would that carry over into his first start of the second half? Roark took the mound with a 3-0 lead, and tossed three scoreless on 39 pitches, striking out five of the first ten batters with a kind of control he hasn’t shown in a while.
Back-to-back, two-out hits in the fourth gave the Brewers a good opportunity to get on the board, but Roark caught Tyler Saladino looking with a 1-2 two-seamer for out No. 3 and his 6th K of the game.
It was 6-0 when Roark returned to the mound in the bottom of the fifth and retired the side in order in a seven-pitch frame.
A 19-pitch sixth left Roark at 80 pitches, and he set the side down in order in the seventh as well, picking up two Ks, for a season-high 10 total and completed seven scoreless on just 94 pitches.
TAN-NER RO-ARK has recorded a season-high 10 Ks this afternoon.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 25, 2018
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Roark came back out for the eighth as well, and picked up his 11th K in an 11-pitch inning that left him at 106 pitches total.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 106 P, 68 S, 6/5 GO/FO.
Peralta vs the Nationals: Freddy Peralta, 22, made his major league debut back on May 13th, five years after he was signed for $137,000 out of the Dominican Republic by Seattle’s Mariners, and three years after he was acquired by the Brewers as part of a 3-for-1 trade for Adam Lind.
In seven starts before today, the right-hander, who features a 91 mph fastball (against which opposing hitters had a .151 AVG), a 77 mph curve (.115 AVG), and 87 mph change (.250 AVG), was (4-1) with a 2.65 ERA, 18 walks, 50 Ks, and a .144/.255/.256 line against in 37 1⁄3 innings as part of Milwaukee’s rotation.
Two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with Nationals in the first this afternoon, and the rookie righty gave up a two-out, two-run single to center by Daniel Murphy that made it a 2-0 game in the visitor’s favor, and a wild pitch with Juan Soto on third allowed another run to come in, 3-0 Nationals after a 29-pitch first.
By the time Peralta was done with the top of the fourth, with the score still 3-0 Nationals, he’d set down 10-straight.
Leadoff and one-out walks in the fifth got Peralta in trouble, however, and a hanging curve to Bryce Harper ended up in the right field seats. No. 25 for Harper. 6-0 Nationals.
Juan Soto got hold of a 1-2 fastball in the sixth, and he hit a solo shot to center field for a 7-0 Nationals’ lead. Soto’s 11th traveled 415 ft to center.
Freddy Peralta’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 97 P, 62 S, 3/6 GO/FO.
RISP HITS!: Daniel Murphy stepped in with the bases loaded and two-out in the first inning of this afternoon’s series finale in Miller Park, and hit a 91 mph 1-1 fastball to center to drive in two and give the Nationals an early lead in the third of three in Milwaukee. A passed ball in the next at bat, with a runner on third, made it a 3-0 game, but it was Murphy who came up with the big hit.
Murphy started the game swinging a hot bat, 13 for 34 (.382 AVG) with two doubles, a home run, and four walks in his last 11, and the 33-year-old infielder hit safely in 15 of his last 23 as well, with a solid (.311/.361/.432) line over that stretch, which went back to June 22nd.
Bryce Harper got an opportunity with two on and two out in the fifth, and he got a hanging-a$$ first-pitch curve from Freddy Peralta that he did. not. miss. Harper’s 25th of 2018 made it a 6-0 game in the Nationals’ favor. Harper was 0 for 2 with two Ks before the home run. It was his 14th extra base hit out of his last 22 hits, eight doubles, six home runs.
BULLPEN ACTION: Jorge Lopez took over for the Brewers in the top of the seventh and set the Nationals down in order. Lopez retired the Nationals in order in the eighth as well, and came back out for the top of the ninth with another 1-2-3 frame.
Sammy Solis gave up a leadoff double by Erik Kratz, a single by Christian Yelich, and a three-run home run by Hernan Perez, 7-3.
Solis got two outs, but a two-out hit led to a decision by Davey Martinez to go to the pen again for right-hander Kelvin Herrera, who got the final out.
Final Score: 7-3 Nationals
Nationals now 50-51