Aug 9, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Rain poured down before the Washington Nationals were scheduled to play their second game of the series against the Atlanta Braves. But after a three hour and forty-one minute rain delay, the game finally started as the latest starting game in baseball this year. As if that wasn’t a long enough wait, it took 11 innings before the Nationals were able to have their breakout inning, earning them an important 4-1 victory.
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The game was tied at one heading into the 11th. The Nationals got only their second leadoff hit in an inning from Anthony Rendon, and Adam Laroche followed with a base hit as well. After an Ian Desmond lineout, the Braves brought in lefty specialist James Russell to face the young Bryce Harper.
This is a situation where Harper has often been free swinging and over-amped, but he showed maturity by taking a huge five-pitch walk to bring Wilson Ramos up to the dish. Ramos fought off a single to center scoring Rendon, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead, and Ramos a birthday RBI.
Next in line was Kevin Frandsen, who was a late addition to the lineup for the ailing Jayson Werth, but he picked up his team in a big way with a two run double down the line in right giving Rafael Soriano a three-run lead to work with.
Soriano allowed just a two-out base hit, before shutting the door on the Bravos for his 26th save of the year, and putting the Nationals back up by 4.5 games in the NL East.
The Nationals were held scoreless until the sixth when Laroche led of with a bomb to the right center field seats.
Roark struggled with command in the bottom of the inning and the Braves had the bases loaded with nobody out. Jayson Heyward hit a sac fly to center to tie the game, but Roark shut the door there by striking out Evan Gattis and getting Chris Johnson to ground out.
Roark gave the Nationals exactly what one expects from the pitcher with the lowest ERA on the staff against their hated rivals. You cannot call him the ace, but he has far surpassed all expectations this year, and this may have been his most important start of the season thus far.
Also to note in the game, Denard Span extended his on base streak to 35 games and is now just two games away from the longest streak in the MLB this season.
Harper and the Braves fans had no love lost as Bryce kicked dirt on the Braves’ “A” behind the plate as he stepped up before his first at bat. He was promptly booed the rest of the game.
Jayson Werth and Steven Souza Jr., who are both battling injuries, both came in the game in the 11th hopefully meaning neither are heading to the DL.
The Nationals top OF prospect Michael Taylor was scratched from the Syracuse lineup and James Wagner of the Washington Post is reporting that he may be on his way up to the big league roster. The question here would be who is he going to replace.