Tanner Roark’s rough first half ended with the righty in the midst of a seven start winless streak over which he was (0-6) with a 7.68 ERA and a .364/.436/.539 line against in 36 1⁄3 innings pitched.
Roark gave up four runs in the first two innings of his final start before the All-Star Break, then finished on a high note with three scoreless innings on the mound, telling reporters after what ended up a 4-2 loss to the New York Mets that he finally felt like the results he was getting matched how he felt.
“This game is so mental that you could eat yourself alive with little stuff,” Roark explained of all the tinkering he’d done, “.... and the more you just stay confident and trust your stuff and trust your catcher and trust the other guys in the field to make plays then you have nothing to worry about, just execution and conviction on your pitches.”
“I think he realizes that what his identity is - that’s to keep the ball down,” Davey Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr before Wednesday afternoon’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park.
“When he throws the ball down, he’s really good. We saw that his last outing in New York, where he kept the ball down and he got some quick outs and was able to be effective.”
Roark looked sharper than he has in a while early against the Brewers, tossing four scoreless innings on 55 pitches, and striking out six of the first 15 batters he faced as the Nats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series finale in Milwaukee.
It was a 6-0 game (courtesy of a three-run blast by Bryce Harper) when Roark took the hill in the bottom of the fifth and threw a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that left him at 62 total in five scoreless, and he worked around his first [and only] walk of the game in a 19-pitch sixth, 81, then added two Ks (for 10 total) in a 14-pitch seventh, 95, and collected another strikeout in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth. 11 Ks on 106 pitches.
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.
“He was awesome, he really was,” Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 7-3 win over the Brewers.
“He attacked the zone, he was working quick, threw strikes, got quick outs, so he was really good.”
Seeing Roark’s hard work pay off, the skipper said, “It’s awesome.”
“If he can do this every start we’ll be in great shape. But we know he can do that. That’s the Tanner that we know, so we’ll just keep building from there, and he gets a little break because we’ve got a day off Monday, he comes back after the day off and we’ll go from there.”
“Everything felt good,” Roark said, after earning his first win since June 6th (which was his second win since April). “I just felt compact, and then over the rubber, my head back, and everything, and just explosive.”
Establishing his fastball early, the starter said, was a key to his success against the Brewers.
“You’ve got to get a good feel for your fastball early and let them know that you’re going to throw it,” he said. “So just mixed in four-seamers, two-seamers every now and then and just keeping them honest and attacking.”
“We couldn’t get much going, kind of right off the get-go,” Milwaukee’s manager, Craig Counsell said.
“[Roark] was solid. His stuff was crisp today. He really was, he was crisp. He’s had a little layoff since the break, and he pitched well and we didn’t get anything going against him.”