Results tagged ‘ Tanner Roark ’

What to Watch for: 9.23.13

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Washington Nationals (84-72) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65)

RHP Tanner Roark (7-0, 1.08) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.98) 

Washington heads to St. Louis and Arizona for the final road trip of the 2013 season as the Nationals return to Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2012 NLDS. The Nationals continue to cling to slim postseason odds, but enter tonight’s game winners of six of their last eight, 13-of-16, and 24 of their last 32 games. In addition to the best September record in the National League, Washington owns the best overall mark in all of baseball (30-12) since August 9, since which point the Nats are +71 in run differential.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

MR. 20-20

Ian Desmond (number 20) stole his 20th and 21st bases of the season on Sunday, becoming the first National to reach the 20-20 plateau more than once. The only prior 20-20 seasons in Nationals history belong to Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06. Desmond is the eighth Major Leaguer to attain 20-20 status this season.

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth is currently the only player who ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (fifth, .927), slugging percentage (fourth, .528), batting average (fifth, .319) and on-base percentage (fifth, .398). Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.304).

2,652,422 THANK YOUS ARE IN ORDER

In 2013, the Nationals hosted 2,652,422 fans to Nationals Park. The average attendance (32,746, 81 openings) is the highest in the six-year existence of Nationals Park and the highest since the inaugural year of the franchise back in 2005. Attendance at Nationals Park in ‘13 was up over 9.1% (or 2,736 per game) compared to 2012.

What to Watch for: 9.18.13

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Atlanta Braves (89-62) vs. Washington Nationals (81-70)

LHP Alex Wood (3-3, 3.45) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (4-0, 3.15)

The Nationals completed an exciting doubleheader sweep over the Braves on Tuesday to cap an emotional day Tuesday in The District. Washington rallied for three runs off Craig Kimbrel for a 6-5, walk-off win in the matinee, while Tanner Roark tossed seven shutout innings in the 4-0 nightcap victory to become the first Nationals player (2005-present) to win his first seven decisions. Ross Ohlendorf steps to the hill tonight as Washington aims for its 11th win in 12 contests and a three-game sweep of its division rivals.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

BEST BALL

Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (27-10, .730). In that span, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (201) and run differential (+65). The Nationals have won eight of nine series since taking three of four games at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.

HOMER HAPPY

At the completion of play on September 1, when the Nationals departed for their most recent road trip, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the National League with 15 home runs. In the 15 games since, Zimmerman has hit 10 long balls — including one to spur a three-run eighth inning in Tuesday’s nightcap — and is currently tied for sixth in the NL with a team-best 25 homers. Zimmerman’s 10 home runs this month are the most in MLB (ahead of Hunter Pence’s nine) and have established a Nationals record for the month of September.

SOME REST FOR THE WEARY

Wilson Ramos’ Nationals record and MLB season-high string of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate came to an end in Tuesday’s nightcap against the Braves. During the 24-game run, which began August 22 at Chicago, Ramos went 24-for-91 (.264) with a double, seven home runs and 24 RBI. Washington played .750 (18-6) ball during that stretch.

Improbabilities and Impossibilities

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by Noah Frank

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” – Vince Lombardi

It is not impossible for the Nationals to make it to the postseason this year. The strange twists and turns of this season have left them looking up a steep hill, at tall odds stacked heavily against them. And while not impossible, the chance of them crashing the party remains highly improbable. Which is to say that they will need a number of improbabilities to swing their way, in succession, to defy those odds.

They got off to a good start on Tuesday.

Facing the prospects of a crushing loss in the opening game of the twinbill against the Braves, the Nationals did something no team has done in Craig Kimbrel’s 225 career appearances, scoring the three runs they needed to erase a two-run deficit to walk off with a 6-5 win. The Baseball Reference win probability chart had the Nats at eight percent to win in such a scenario entering the bottom of the ninth.

Leverage

The comeback was made even more amazing, and the result even more unlikely than the probabilities suggest, considering that Washington had yet to score against the Atlanta closer his 10 prior appearances against them this season. He had converted 37 straight save opportunities, a string that was going to end as soon as the ball left Denard Span’s bat, as his one-out grounder was going to be deep enough to score the tying run. But as Andrelton Simmons – the highest-rated defensive shortstop in baseball – pulled his glove up, the ball skipping untouched through his legs, the Nationals found themselves celebrating an even more unbelievable victory.

Denard Span keyed another improbable Nationals victory.

Denard Span keyed another improbable Nationals victory in game one.

The long odds didn’t end in game one, though. After Tanner Roark, perhaps the unlikeliest figure in this late season charge, delivered seven scoreless frames in the nightcap, Washington clung to a 1-0 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. The Braves turned to Jordan Walden, who had allowed just one run in eight prior appearances against the Nats, coming on a solo shot by Ryan Zimmerman. The Z-Man took an encore roundtripper to double the lead, then Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche combined to plate two more runs as the Nationals put the game away.

Against the two relievers who had dominated them the most this season, the Nationals suddenly broke through for three runs apiece. Coming in, Walden and Kimbrel had combined to go 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA (1 ER/18.0 IP), four walks, 22 strikeouts and a perfect 7-for-7 in save chances in the season series. On Tuesday, they were 0-1 with a 22.50 ERA (5 ER/2.0 IP), with two walks, no strikeouts and a blown save.

While Washington has no realistic chance to catch Atlanta in the division, the two wins ensured the Braves could not clinch the NL East in Washington this week. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds have continued to win in Houston, lowering the Nationals postseason chances to 3.3 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus, heading into play on Wednesday. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost two straight, bringing them back into the picture as well. In order to tie the Reds or Pirates and force a one-game playoff to get to the Wild Card game, the Nationals would need to play out their remaining games with one of the following combinations from their opponents:

Improbabilities

While it seems unlikely that teams like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, clubs which have played well all season, will collapse entirely, any of the top three combinations seem possible. Yes, it would require the Nationals to keep playing at the same rate they have over their last 12 games (in which they are 11-1) against stronger competition, including three games in St. Louis.

These are not probable outcomes. But, then again, after what happened on Tuesday at Nationals Park, we know that improbable does not equal impossible.

Highlights: 9.17.13

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9.17.13 Game One – Nationals 6, Braves 5

Stat of the Game: The Nationals became the first team to score three runs against Craig Kimbrel in his 225 career appearances.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Dan Haren twirled six strong innings of one-run ball and left with a 3-1 lead.

It Was Over When: Denard Span‘s grounder up the middle split the wickets on Andrelton Simmons to score the winning run.

9.17.13 Game Two – Nationals 4, Braves 0

Stat of the Game: Tanner Roark dominated once again, tossing seven scoreless frames en rout to his seventh win, lowering his ERA to 1.08.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman blasted his 10th home run in his last 15 games, giving him 25 on the season for the fourth time in his career.

It Was Over When: Washington added three insurance runs in the ninth inning to put the game away.

What to Watch for: 9.17.13 – Game Two

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Atlanta Braves (89-61) vs. Washington Nationals (80-70)

RHP Freddy Garcia (1-1, 1.32) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (6-0, 1.30)

(Note: Garcia is 4-6, 4.86 overall on the year)

In Game One of today’s twin bill, the Nationals jumped out to an early lead, only to watch Atlanta storm back to take a 5-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth. Winless in six tries at home against the Braves this season, the Nationals put themselves in a position where they needed at least two runs to keep the game alive. Instead, they got three, becoming the first team in 225 tries to do as much damage against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

Adam LaRoche led off with a walk and Wilson Ramos followed by grinding out an eight-pitch at-bat, fighting back from 0-2 to drive a ball up the middle that second baseman Elliot Johnson got a glove to, but could not flip accurately to second base for the force. Jeff Kobernus ran for Ramos at first and Anthony Rendon drew another walk to load the bases with no outs for pinch-hitter Chad Tracy. The left-handed hitter pulled a hard chopper to first base, allowing LaRoche to score and cut the lead to one, the runners moving up to second and third.

Enter, Denard Span.

The center fielder had already extended his hitting streak to a career-high 27 games earlier in the afternoon, matching the longest streak in baseball this season. After taking ball one, he hit a grounder back up the middle, where the Braves defense was not playing in – playing not to lose, rather than to win. While the tying run would have scored on the play regardless, shortstop Andrelton Simmons pulled up on the ball, as it skipped through his legs untouched. Rendon motored around third to score behind Kobernus, and the Nationals snagged an enormous, 6-5 victory.

“I knew when I hit the ball, the game was tied for sure,” said Span after the raucous celebration on the Nationals Park infield. “For us to be able to get a win like that against their closer, and on our home field, it just felt really good.”

The win improved Washington’s record to 80-70, putting the Nats 10 games above .500 for the first time all season. It also staved off Atlanta’s chance to clinch the division title for another day, the NL East Magic Number remaining at four and the Reds second Wild Card elimination number still at eight.

Right-hander Tanner Roark will take the hill against veteran Freddy Garcia in the nightcap of the doubleheader.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche  1B

7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Jhonatan Solano C

9. Tanner Roark RHP

HEAR ME, ROARK

Tanner Roark has been brilliant since his call up from Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 6-0 record in 11 appearances. Roark has won each of his first two starts, allowing two earned runs in 12.0 innings of work. He sports a 1.30 ERA overall (5 ER/34.2 IP) with 26 strikeouts and just eight walks.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING

Denard Span extended his career-best hitting streak to 27 straight games in Game One, matching Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer for the longest in Major League Baseball this year

Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos will see his stretch of consecutive starts behind the plate come to an end a 24 games with Jhonatan Solano in at catcher in Game Two. The streak is two games longer than the next closest in baseball this season (Yadier Molina, 22).

Highlights: 9.12.13

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9.12.13 – Nationals 7, Mets 2

Stat of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman homered for the eighth time in his last 10 games, tying Jayson Werth for the team lead with 23 on the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark improved to 6-0 on the season, following 6.0 innings of two-run ball.

It Was Over When: Anthony Rendon swatted a solo shot in the ninth, as the Nationals out-homered the Mets, 13-0 on the series.

What to Watch for: 9.8.13

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Washington Nationals (72-69) vs. Miami Marlins (53-87)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.85) vs. RHP Jacob Turner (3-5, 3.13)

If you had suggested, back in April, that a Nationals starter might throw six scoreless frames of four-hit ball in Miami in September, nobody would be surprised. If you called that starter out by name, and that name was Tanner Roark, the response would have been largely uniform.

Who?

But Roark, who has been one of the brightest spots on the Nationals staff since making his Major League debut on August 7, did exactly that Saturday night. In his first Major League start he worked ahead in the count and got quick outs, just as he had done in his nine previous outings out of the bullpen. When it was all said and done, he had lowered his ERA over his first 28.2 innings as a National to a head-turning 0.94.

When asked if Roark’s performance had earned him another turn in the rotation, Davey Johnson was quick to reply with one of his classic quips.

“He’ll make his next start,” said the Nats skipper. “I’m not that stupid.”

Roark’s dominance has been even more noticeable due to his ability to pitch ahead of batters and stay in the strike zone, leading to quick innings. On Saturday night, he needed just 71 pitches for his six frames, or 11.83 per inning pitched.

“Since he’s come up, everything he’s done has been impressive,” said Ryan Zimmerman, the offensive star of the contest, who homered in his first two at-bats and also turned in a couple defensive gems.

As for Roark himself, he carried the same quietly confident demeanor he has shown ever since entering the Nationals clubhouse back in August. And while even he has taken pause at how well the results have turned out, he’s just rolling with the punches.

“Yeah, I’m a little surprised,” he admitted of the early returns of his Major League career. “But I don’t want to change anything … Just keep attacking, going after guys. Make them swing.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Adam LaRoche 1B

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

AT HOME ON THE ROAD

Ryan Zimmerman blasted a pair of home runs Saturday night, marking his second multi-homer game this season and the 12th of his career. Both of his multi-home run games in 2013 have come on the road, the other being a three-homer affair in Baltimore on May 29. Interestingly, 15 of Zimmerman’s 19 home runs this season (78.9%) have come away from Nationals Park, compared to 76 of his 153 career homers prior to this year (49.7%).

WERTH A LOOK

Jayson Werth collected three hits last night – his ninth three-hit performance this season – raising his batting average to .321 for the year. That currently ranks fifth in the National League, trailing only Andrew McCutchen (.322), Yadier Molina (.323), Michael Cuddyer (.328), and Chris Johnson (.332).

ATTENTION SPAN

Denard Span extended his hit streak to a career-high 18 games with a first-inning single and finished his night 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Span has batted at a .411 (30-for-73) clip over the streak, raising his batting average from .258 to .279. The outfielder’s 18-game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

Highlights: 9.7.13

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9.7.13 – Nationals 9, Marlins 2

Stat of the Game: Tanner Roark delivered six scoreless frames in his first start to improve to 5-0 on the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman delivered his 12th career multi-home run game and turned in a pair of defensive gems in the field.

It Was Over When: The Nationals bounced Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi after three frames, scoring five times.

What to Watch for: 9.7.13

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Washington Nationals (71-69) vs. Miami Marlins (53-86)

RHP Tanner Roark (4-0, 1.19) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-5, 3.40) 

Tanner Roark has found himself in the right place at the right time often in his first stint in the big leagues. He collected four wins in his first six appearances, all out of the bullpen. Of course, that isn’t to say he hasn’t earned the victories. The right-hander had allowed just three earned runs in 22.2 innings of work over nine outings, striking out 19 while walking just seven over that span. All of that led Davey Johnson to hand Roark the ball for his first big league start tonight in Miami.

In addition to his effectiveness, one other piece of statistical information stands out about Roark. He has needed just 313 pitches to record his first 68 outs as a Major Leaguer, a rate of 13.81 pitches per inning. The Major League leader among qualifying starters in that department in Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo at 14.13 P/IP, with Jordan Zimmermann leading Nationals starters at 14.54, seventh-lowest in the majors. Even with something around an 80-pitch limit tonight, if Roark can continue his efficient ways, he may still be able to give the Nationals five or six innings of work.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 17 straight games at a .406 (28-for-69) clip with five walks, three doubles, 2 triples, a homer, 11 runs scored and 5 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .278. The leadoff man’s 17 game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond – via his 20-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far – is on the cusp of posting the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a National. Washington’s previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond himself (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

SECOND HARVEST

A quick look at the Nationals’ 3 farm clubs taking part in the MiLB Postseason:

• Harrisburg (AA) - Lead series vs. Erie (DET), 2-1 – Best-of-five series resumes tonight in Harrisburg.

• Potomac (A) - Swept Lynchburg (ATL), 2-0 – Will face Salem (BOS) for the Mills Cup Championship, starting Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

• Hagerstown (A) - Series vs. West Virginia (PIT), tied at 1-1 – Best-of-three series concludes tonight in Hagerstown.

What to Watch for: 8.30.13

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New York Mets (60-72) vs. Washington Nationals (68-65)

RHP Dillon Gee (9-9, 3.69) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32) 

Often in baseball, we talk about the intangible benefits of veterans in the clubhouse. They seem to have an effect on the team dynamic by their mere presence, leading by example, letting their play speak for itself.

It’s less often we hear about the tangible benefits of veteran leaders. Sure, they’re frequently the ones making an impact in the box score night in and night out, but their role as teachers for the less experienced players can be easy to overlook.

Yet, if it weren’t for one of those moments of tangible leadership, the Nationals might have had a more difficult time dispatching the Marlins, 9-0, on Thursday night.

On paper, pitcher Gio Gonzalez’s seven shutout innings look about as solid as a manager can hope for from his starter. For the first two innings, though, Miami appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough, as Gonzalez walked three and gave up two hits, striking out just one batter. While he managed to strand three runners in scoring position over the first two frames, his pitch count rose to 43, not a good sign with a depleted Nationals bullpen that threw seven innings Wednesday due to the rain.

Cue that veteran guidance. Dripping with sweat after the two long frames, Gonzalez retreated to the clubhouse and found closer Rafael Soriano waiting for him. The 12-year veteran had noticed something off with Gonzalez’s delivery and had some words of wisdom for the Nationals starter.

“After the second inning, I came up here to change my shirt, and I had Soriano standing right in the entrance telling me, ‘Stay back, your arm is dropping way too low and you are trying to rush,’” Gonzalez recalled. “That meant a lot, especially when he is out there watching.”

Gonzalez made the adjustment. Over his next five innings of work, he gave up just one more hit and struck out seven Miami batters on just 65 pitches. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson flirted with the idea of sending him back out for the eighth, before handing the ball over to Tanner Roark. The rookie reliever made quick work of the eighth and ninth innings, needing just 13 pitches, 12 of which were strikes.

The Nats offense helped alleviate any lingering pressure, with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each launching multi-run homers over the left field fence. If the Nationals are to make a run at a National League Wild Card spot, offensive performances like those that have marked their current hot streak will be crucial. But so, too, will the small adjustments like Gonzalez’s, and the veterans that spot the need for them.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED

Jayson Werth’s .329 batting average would rank a close second in the National League and trail only Yadier Molina (.333) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth’s 411 plate appearances to date are only one shy of the 412 presently required (133 games x 3.1 plate appearances per game) to qualify for the NL batting title. The outfielder is batting a Major League Baseball-best .389 dating to July 1.

18 AND UP CLUB

The Nationals are the lone National League club to feature four players with 18 or more home runs. The team’s long balls have been fairly evenly distributed, however, as each of the top four power players in Washington are within just three dingers of one other:

Jayson Werth – 21

Ian Desmond – 20

Bryce Harper – 19

Adam LaRoche – 18

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for portions of the 2013 season, the Nationals rank third in the NL in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 123 runs in 25 games this month (4.92 per game). Among Senior Circuit entries, only St. Louis (5.19 runs in 27 August contests) and Arizona (5.04 in 25 games) have scored more often per contest than the Nationals this month.

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