Tanner Roark snapped a seven-start winless streak, over which he was (0-6) with a 7.68 ERA and a .364/.436/.539 line against, with a strong start against the Milwaukee Brewers (8.0 IP, 0 ER 11 Ks) on the road in Miller Park, and he followed up on that outing with seven innings on the mound against the New York Mets at home in Nationals Park in which he gave up just one run on four hits, while striking out seven, earning the win in a 25-4 blowout.
“This is the Tanner Roark that I’ve seen for many years from the other side,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the right-hander’s second straight win.
“Coming here this is what I expected from him. He’s doing really well and it’s really exciting to see him pitch that well. He’s a bulldog, and I told him that, I said, ‘We need you.’
“And in previous years I know he’s had some good success in the second-half, and I just told him, I said, ‘Stay right there and keep it going.’”
Roark managed to keep it going through three scoreless on Sunday afternoon, on just 30 pitches, as the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series finale with Cincinnati on the strength of a solo home run by catcher Matt Wieters and an opposite field RBI double by Bryce Harper, but the top of the fourth started with four consecutive singles that got the Reds on the board, 2-1, with the fourth hit, on an 0-2 curve to Mason Williams, particularly frustrating for Washington’s starter.
Roark got an out on a pop-up from catcher Tucker Barnhart for out No. 1, and a swinging K from Brandon Dixon, for out No. 2, before a fly to right field from the opposing pitcher, Luis Castillo, ended the threat and kept the one-run lead intact.
He followed up with a 10-pitch fifth inning, and a 15-pitch sixth, and Roark came back out for the seventh, retiring the side in order in a 12-pitch frame that ended when he dove off the side of the mound to field a grounder off of Billy Hamilton’s bat for the final out of the inning and his outing.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 88 P, 61 S, 7/8 GO/FO.
Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera followed Roark on the mound with a scoreless inning each as the Nationals wrapped up a 2-1 win over the Reds, taking three of four in the series.
Talking about that fourth inning trouble after the game, Martinez said it was a big boost that Roark was able to limit the damage.
“He attacked the zone again, with his fastball,” the first-year skipper said when asked how Roark slowed things down and got out of the jam.
“He started using his fastball again, and when he does that he’s good. He competed today, and he gave us seven strong innings, which is awesome.”
“He kept us in the lead right there,” Martinez said. “We’re still up a point. Getting out of that inning with bases loaded, that could have been a lot worse, so that was definitely a boost for the guys.”
“I was making my pitches,” Roark said of the Reds’ rally, “... and they were just finding holes and getting hits, so nothing you can get too mad about. I was mad about the curveball that I threw 0-2 that was just up, and he got a base hit and that was a run, but me and [Matt] Wieters, just clicking and just going out there and still executing my pitches and not trying to do too much.”
“It’s easy to get in your own head in that spot, and you’ve just to continue to grind and make your pitches and not give in.”
Asked how Roark’s mentality has changed overall since he’s started to turn things around, Martinez said he’s definitely seen a difference.
“He’s definitely got confidence right now, and that’s always a good thing, and when you’re starting to pitch the way he’s pitching, the more he does it the better he’s going to feel in his own head. So for him, doing what he’s doing right now, we need that and it’s a big pick-me-up for us right now.”