Washington Nationals Recap: Tanner Roark Shines as Nats Blank Cardinals, 7-0
Tanner Roark went five scoreless innings, and Ryan Zimmerman hit his second home run of the spring as the Washington Nationals blanked the Cardinals, 7-0, in Jupiter this afternoon.
In 2015 Tanner Roark had a very disappointing season. Battling being swapped in and out of the rotation, Roark never found his stride. This afternoon he continued to show this spring why he should be a member of the Nationals’ rotation this year, and how valuable he truly is to this team. Roark scattered six hits over his five innings pitched, striking out four and lowering his spring ERA to an impressive 0.64.
The Nationals’ offense got things started early against St. Louis starter Mike Leake. In the top of the first inning after hits by Matt den Dekker and Michael A. Taylor, Zimmerman hit a RBI groundout to second base, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead.
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The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fourth inning. With one out in the fourth, Zimmerman pulled a home run down the left field line to double the Nationals’ lead. The round-tripper was Zimmerman’s second of the spring. Wilson Ramos then singled and Chris Heisey followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Danny Espinosa came to the plate and hit a routine ground ball to second that was booted by Kolten Wong, scoring both runners to put the Nationals ahead 4-0.
Thanks to poor Cardinals’ defense, the Nats struck again in the top of the sixth. With runners on first and third with two outs, den Dekker hit a ground ball to Cards’ third baseman Matt Carpenter that misplayed for the home team’s fourth error of the game. Danny Espinosa scored on the play to put Washington ahead 5-0, with Trea Turner moving to third and den Dekker making it to second. Taylor continued to pour it on, blooping an RBI single to left, scoring Turner and den Dekker to make the score 7-0.
Celebrating his 25th birthday, Taylor continued his torrid spring going two for three on the game to raise his batting average to an outstanding .500 in 38 at bats.
The Nationals’ bullpen did an impressive job, with Felipe Rivero, Sean Burnett, Matt Belisle and Aaron Laffey each throwing a scoreless inning to wrap up a 7-0 win for the Nationals. Burnett continued to make his case for a spot in the Nationals’ bullpen, increasing his scoreless innings streak to 6 2/3 this spring.
Chris Heisey and Scott Sizemore both went 1-for-3 on the day, and continued their competition for the final spot on the Nats’ bench. Turner again showed his outstanding speed, legging out a triple in the eighth inning. The young shortstop prospect increased his spring average to a respectable .257, with presumed starting shortstop Espinosa struggling to a .111 average so far.
Next game: Tomorrow on Easter Sunday, a split-squad Nationals team will take on the Atlanta Braves in Viera at 1:05 p.m. and the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m. Gio Gonzalez will get the start against the Braves and Yusmeiro Petit will take the mound against the Mets.