Unbeaten in his last four starts (4-0) with a 1.21 ERA, two walks, 27 Ks, and a .213/.232/.250 line against in 29 2⁄3 innings pitched over that stretch, Tanner Roark took the mound in St. Louis, MO’s Busch Stadium on Thursday night coming off a 7 2⁄3-inning outing against the Chicago Cubs on the road in Wrigley Field, which saw the 31-year-old right-hander give up nine hits, a walk, and two earned runs, striking out seven in a 117-pitch effort.
Roark said his success over the last few starts was a result of, “just being able to drive more toward the plate and be more deceptive,” as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Getting on top of the ball with my sinker was a huge part of it. Using it to both sides of the plate, and also mixing my four-seamer to keep the hitters honest.”
Roark retired the first six batters he faced in the series finale with the Cardinals, but the seventh, Harrison Bader, hit a 2-1 slider out to left for a solo home run that cut an early Nationals’ lead in half, 2-1.
Roark held the Cards to one run through five, throwing just 68 pitches, but the home team scored three with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth, with the right-handed starter giving up a double by Tyler O’Neill with one down, a two-out RBI single by Paul DeJong, an RBI double by Kolten Wong, and an RBI single by Harrison Bader in a 29-pitch inning that got the Cardinals within one, 5-4.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 97 P, 59 S, 4/6 GO/FO.
Justin Miller tossed two scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings, and Koda Glover got a save opportunity in the ninth, working around a two-out single by Jose Martinez and a walk to Matt Carpenter to earn his first save since early June of 2017.
“[Miller] was outstanding and then Koda gets the three outs that we need,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak and brought an eight-game winning streak for the Cardinals to an end.
“Tanner as well. I figured he was gassed after running the bases so many times,” Martinez joked, after Roark went 2 for 3 at the plate, “... and it was hot, you know, so Justin came in and gave us the two innings we needed and then Glover closed it out.”
“I’m back, baby,” Glover told MASN’s Dan Kolko in a postgame interview, after a 21-pitch, 12-strike appearance in which he threw 11 sliders, five changeups, three sinkers, a fastball, and a curve.
“We just told him to get outs,” Martinez said when asked about Glover’s pitch selection and his reliance on breaking and offspeed stuff. “Any way he can. Just get outs. And he actually threw some good ones, so I’m proud of him.”
“Ninth inning is a different animal,” Glover said.
“Only closers understand what kind of atmosphere comes down to the ninth. Everybody’s watching, that’s when the game is on the line, that’s when you win and lose games, so for it to be that crucial and to get a win after a rough stint there for four or five games whatever it was, it was good to get a win.”
“We needed a win today,” Martinez said. “Get on that plane, like I said, have a nice, happy flight, and come back tomorrow and be at home and get ready for tomorrow.”