A week after starting a game against the Padres he’ll likely never forget, Tanner Roark’s (2-1) start Saturday night against the Phillies is one he’d like to forget as soon as possible. Roark pitched only 4+ mostly ineffective innings as the Phillies jumped out to an early lead and defeated the Nationals 7-2.
It has been exactly one week since Roark’s complete game shutout of the Padres and the rust showed as he consistently missed with location while his curveball had less bite. Ryan Howard ended Roark’s 18 inning scoreless streak in the first, with a three-run home run, his sixth on the season. The Phillies added runs in the second, forth, and two in the fifth, closing out Roark’s night after seven hits, seven earned runs, and five strikeouts.
Opposing Roark, A.J. Burnett (2-1) confused the Nats hitters with an assortment of fastballs, cutters, and sliders. Burnett finished with a line of six innings pitched, surrendering three hits while striking out seven. On the night, Burnett made only one mistake to Adam LaRoche who hit his fifth home run of the season in the sixth.
Rain and lightning were the only things that could slow Burnett as his night was finished after a delay in the sixth.
The Nats added their second run in the seventh when Zach Walters hit his second pinch hit home run of the season. Adopting the Dave Kingman theory of hitting, Walters is now 3-for-14 on the season with three home runs and six strike outs.
While hits were in short supply for the Nats on the night, totaling only four, LaRoche finished the night 2-for-2 with the home run and a walk. Ian Desmond also collected a hit and a walk . . . and those are the highlights.
For the first time in recent memory, there were no benches clearing incidents or calls worth challenging. Perhaps a gentlemen’s agreement, managers Matt Williams and Ryne Sandberg remind us of a happier time.
The loss ends the Nats three game winning streak, yet they remain ½ game back from the Atlanta Braves who lost their fifth straight.
The Nats send Gio Gonzalez (3-1) to start the rubber game against Roberto Hernandez (1-1). Hernandez starts in place of scheduled starter Cole Hamels. Gonzalez last pitched a no decision against the Astros, tossing six innings, striking out nine, and enters Sunday eleventh in the NL in strike outs.