Tanner Roark’s night started well with a seven-pitch first against the Boston Red Sox, but back-to-back singles in the top of the second, and a one-out, three-run home run to left-center field by Eduardo Nunez, on an 0-1 fastball outside, put the Sox up 3-0 early for a second straight night.
Nunez got another RBI opportunity in the fourth, but Roark got an inning-ending 4-6-3 out of the infielder to escape what started as a first-and-third, no-out jam.
Roark helped his own cause with the second of two RBI singles for the Nats in the home-half of the fourth to make it a 3-2 game, but the Red Sox strung together five-straight one-out singles to drive in three in the top of the fifth, and Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run bomb to center field to make it a 9-2 game in Boston’s favor.
Roark hung around through seven innings, taking one for the team (or bullpen more really) but his final line wasn’t pretty.
Tanner Roark vs the Red Sox: 7.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 98 P, 66 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
It ended up an 11-4 loss, which left the Nationals 42-42, 7.5 games out in the NL East.
“It’s hard to play from behind,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nats’ eighth loss in the last ten games and 19th loss in the last 28.
“Our starting pitching right now is not giving the offense a chance. And when we do try to make a run and come back, we’ve got to have shutdown innings. It’s not happening.
“So in May we were [20-7], our starting pitching was really good, and for some reason right now we’re not doing that, so I think it’s a sense of having some kind of accountability and starting to make pitches.”
“I talk about this all the time, giving up 0-2 homers, 1-2 homers, that’s not good,” Martinez continued, “... so we’ve got to clean that up, and I think that if these guys can give our lineup a chance, we’ll start winning some games, because we are playing better, I see that.
“We came back and scored two runs and the energy was great, and we go back out there and they come back and score six runs, and everything just goes dormant again.
“They didn’t quit, but everything — here we go, scratching and clawing again trying to get back in the game, and it’s tough, it’s tough for the boys.”
“You need [shutdown] inning every time,” Roark told reporters when asked about the rough top of the fifth, “but it’s a good team over there, I wasn’t going out there to give up six, or to give up any runs. That’s my objective every time I go out there and pitch is not to give up any runs, but you’re human and I’ll just go back and just stay consistent with where I’m at and fortunately I didn’t do the best, but I felt good.”
That’s what Roark found really frustrating, actually.
“I think it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Roark said, “so other than two pitches, I feel like they just base hit me to death, so what are you going to do.”
The 2-2 changeup that Bogaerts hit out was belt-high and headed outside, but it hung up for the Sox’ shortstop, who hit it onto the putting green in center field.
“It was just a poorly executed pitch,” Roark explained, “same thing with the two-seamer in to Nunez.”
Martinez was asked what he meant by accountability when he called for it.
“Hey, make better choices,” he said.
“Think about what’s going on, think about situations, and let’s move forward. And I talked to Tanner during the game when he came out, and he actually threw the ball pretty well, just at certain times he made bad pitches, and I told him, I said, ‘Look, sometimes it’s better off giving away one run on a base hit to right, then giving up three runs.’ I mean, think about it.
“One run we’re still in the ballgame, three runs, we’ve got to come back, here we go, scratch and claw.
“You don’t want to give up any, I get it, but in certain situations try to get a ground ball, try to get a fly ball to right field and things like that. Things of that matter, we’ve got to get better at.”
“I think when [Roark] is good, the ball is down,” Martinez said.
“When I’ve seen him really good, the ball is down, when he elevates balls, he tends to get hit hard.”
“It’s very frustrating,” Roark said.
“I felt like all my stuff was down, velocity was good, location was good. So yeah, it’s definitely frustrating.”
Asked if this is the toughest stretch he’s gone through, Roark said actually, it isn’t.
“No, I would say last year, all of last year,” he explained, “so I learned last year in the second half not to let things get to me and go out there and still give 105-110-115 pitches, however many pitches I can.”