Tanner Roark gave up five hits, three walks, and four runs, three earned, over six innings on the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium earlier this month, in a 5-4 win for the Washington Nationals.
He was winless in his next three starts, however, before going up against the Cards again in last night’s matchup in the nation’s capital, with a 3.00 ERA, a .200/.200/.436 line against and 11 Ks in 15 IP, in which he didn’t allow a single walk, but he did give up four home runs in that stretch, which was as many as he’d allowed in his previous 10 starts and 60 2⁄3 IP.
“He felt like he threw the ball well,” Davey Martinez told reporters after Roark gave up three of the four home runs and four runs total last time out, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“Just a couple pitches caught too much of the plate. But he settled down, pitched well.”
“Just a little erratic at times, not hitting my spots, and they made me pay for it,” Roark said.
Going up against the Cardinals for the second time in a few weeks in Wednesday’s series finale in the nation’s capital, Roark took the mound at 7:05 PM EDT in D.C. and by 7:10 was down 3-0 after back-to-back hits by Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez and a three-run home run to right by former Nats’ first baseman Matt Adams, who hit a first-pitch curve over the out-of-town scoreboard.
It was 5-0 after two following a two-out rally that saw the opposing pitcher, Miles Mikolas, reach on a chopper off the plate that Anthony Rendon bobbled, Matt Carpenter double to drive in a run on a fly to center that Bryce Harper lost in the twilight, and Jose Martinez hit his second single of the night to drive Carpenter in.
Matt Adams took Roark deep again in the fifth, hitting a first-pitch changeup out this time, into the second deck in right field, 6-0.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 111 P, 73 S, 7/0 GO/FO.
“Like I’ve said a million times,” Roark told reporters after what ended up a 7-6 loss, “if you don’t make your pitch, they hit it far. And so he did twice so, if I had a hat on I’d tip it to [Adams].”
“He’s a good hitter, one,” Martinez said of Adams, “... but we got the ball up, you know, we threw one breaking ball that was up and then a changeup that was up, and you can’t make those mistakes with a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Roark wasn’t hit particularly hard, Martinez added, but continually falling behind and having to fight back is never easy.
“I think the first — a lot of hits in the first inning that were just bloop hits, nothing real hard, and then he gives up the homer. But I thought all in all he settled down and pitched well, threw a lot of pitches, but we’ve got to come out and like I said, to give up three runs in the first inning, two runs in the second inning and be down 5-0 is tough.”
Roark thought he pitched well overall too, continuing the run he’s been on after a rough couple months for the right-hander.
“Yeah. I mean you guys watched the game right?” he asked rhetorically.
“I didn’t think it was — like I said, two pitches that were hit and they were mistakes and what are you going to do.”
The at-times-shoddy defense behind him didn’t help either. Roark was asked if he was able to separate his performance from the mistakes and balls that just fell in.
“I felt like I executed pretty well,” Roark said, “... just they were falling, so there’s nothing much I can do about that. You’ve got to make your pitches, execute your pitches, and didn’t execute two pitches and they went for home runs, so it sucks sometimes, it’s frustrating, but I’ve been in that — it’s happened to me before, so you’ve got to keep chucking.”