Results tagged ‘ Tanner Roark ’

Saturday Night Fever

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

“I feel like we were just destined to win that game, some way, somehow.”

Those words came from Dan Haren, maybe the most unlikely of heroes from a game full of them, saturated with storylines from both dugouts.

Saturday night was supposed to be about Bryce Harper, about unwritten baseball rules, about the rising tension between the Nationals and the Braves as they battled through the dog days of summer. But amidst a bizarre game in which two of the best young pitchers in baseball each failed to escape the second inning, it became a story of a true team effort in which 21 of the 25 men on the Washington roster played a role. In the end, the Nationals prevailed after 15 innings and nearly five-and-a-half hours, by a final of 8-7.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

While any 15-inning affair will naturally be referred to most commonly as a marathon, this division rivalry felt more like a long distance relay race, with one reliever handing the baton to the next, over and over again. In all, 18 different pitchers were used by the two clubs – nine each – including the starters, each club’s entire seven-man bullpen, and two more starters to close it out.

Along the way, Washington set a number of records. The 15 innings matched the longest game in Nationals history, equaling the 2009 season finale, a 2-1 win over none other than the Braves at Turner Field. The five-hour, 29-minute affair was the lengthiest in terms of time elapsed. Meanwhile, the 19 strikeouts compiled by the Washington bullpen shattered the all-time Major League mark, at least as far back as anyone can be sure. The records for such a stat only date back to 1971, to which point the highest total ever compiled by a relief staff in a single game was 16. But considering the way the sport had evolved, with increased strikeout rates and higher bullpen usage, it’s hard to imagine any club amassing a comparable total in any previous era.

Following Stephen Strasburg’s second-inning ejection, Tanner Roark was the first Nationals reliever to answer the call, entering a 4-2 game and providing four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with six strikeouts. Drew Storen tossed a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side. Ian Krol rebounded from a tough Friday night outing to put up two more scoreless frames in extra innings, and Craig Stammen followed a two-inning stint Friday night with a 55-pitch, three-inning scoreless stretch to get the game to the 15th inning.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Of course, in the midst of the impressive relief outings, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, making all of the extra pomp and circumstance necessary in the first place. But neither team would score again until the 15th inning, when Adam LaRoche punished a hanging breaking ball from Kris Medlen for a moonshot to right field, the ball searing through the mist at Turner Field before coming to rest in the bleachers, a dozen rows deep, giving the Nationals the lead once more.

That left the game to Haren, summoned from the bullpen to make his first relief appearance since 2004. Haren had thrown his routine side work prior to the game, tossing 30-35 pitches, which he followed with an upper body workout. But when Strasburg’s evening was cut short, several hours earlier, he offered up his services, should they be needed. They were.

“I’m proud of him for even doing that,” said Randy Knorr, who took over as manager when Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. “A lot of guys wouldn’t even have gone down there after throwing a bullpen.”

Haren allowed a single, but that was all, striking out Jordan Schafer flailing at a splitter, his bat sent cartwheeling towards the Braves dugout to end the game. That netted Haren first Major League save, and only his second as a professional, the other coming more than 12 years prior as a member of the New Jersey Cardinals of the Short-season New York Penn League on July 15, 2001 against the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m only supposed to do media every five days,” Haren joked as the huddle approached his locker after 1 a.m. local time.

In the end, the Nationals went home with a big road victory in Atlanta. Their reward. Both clubs get a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes between the final out and the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Haren summed it up best when all was said and done.

“Five-hour games are fine when you win them. But when you lose them, they really stink.”

Highlights: 8.17.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.17.13 – Nationals 8, Braves 7 (15 innings)

Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche‘s 15-inning home run was the deciding blow in the longest game in franchise history at five hours, 29 minutes.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark tossed four innings of one-hit, shutout relief, striking out six batters.

It Was Over When: Dan Haren earned his first Major League save with a scoreless 15th inning.

Highlights: 8.13.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.13.13 – Nationals 4, Giants 2

Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche‘s two-run shot in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and helped the Nationals to their fourth straight victory.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark earned his second win in four days, allowing one unearned run over two innings of relief.

It Was Over When: Kurt Suzuki‘s eighth-inning sacrifice fly scored Jayson Werth with an insurance run to provide the final margin.

What to Watch for: 8.11.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Philadelphia Phillies (52-64) vs. Washington Nationals (56-60)

RHP Kyle Kendrick (9-8, 4.29) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-9, 3.01)

The Nationals take aim at a three-game sweep of Philadelphia as they send Stephen Strasburg to the hill. Despite winning six of the past seven home series from the Phillies, Washington has never swept its division rival in D.C.

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

CLIFF JUMPING

The Nationals overcame a four-run deficit – their largest of the season – against Cliff Lee and the Phillies in Saturday night’s 8-5 victory. Entering the contest, Lee had a personal record of 84-1 when being staked to a lead of four runs or more in his career (he received a no decision). Also, Lee’s teams had won 86 of the 92 games in which he had pitched with at least a four-run cushion.

WERTH ANOTHER LOOK

Since July 1, Jayson Werth leads all National League players in all three Triple Crown categories with a .404 batting average (46-for-114), nine home runs and 27 RBI. The .404 mark is also the best in Major League Baseball over that span, easily in front of Adrian Beltre’s .370.

BANNER START FOR TANNER

With two perfect innings of relief, Tanner Roark collected his first Major League win in just his second appearance out of the bullpen. Roark needed only 12 pitches – six per inning – to set the Phillies down in order twice. The righty has allowed just one baserunner in his first four innings with the Nationals and has faced the minimum 12 batters over that span.

Meaningful Milestones

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

As a baseball player, you can’t always control when you will hit certain career milestones. Often times, they occur simply within the flow of the game, perhaps having little impact on the actual result. Two Nationals players hit memorable milestone marks Saturday night, one helping directly contribute to the other.

After an RBI-single his second time up got the Nationals on the board, Jayson Werth stood at 998 career hits. In the sixth inning, he would fight through a classically Werthian at-bat, fouling off four pitches before swatting a single the other way and eventually scoring Washington’s third run. That set him up for a chance to reach the 1,000 mark in his next at-bat, which came in a tie game against Phillies reliever Zach Miner with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The normally methodical Werth took no time to make his presence felt, jumping on a first pitch slider and wrapping it inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead, two-run home run. He even took a curtain call following the blast, which put the Nationals ahead for good.

“Unbelievable moment for him, to get his 1,000th career hit on a homer against them,” said Bryce Harper after the game, referencing Werth’s achievement coming against his former club.

While Werth himself downplayed the significance of the milestone occurring against the Phillies, he nevertheless took a moment to savor the accomplishment, one he didn’t even realize he was on the precipice of reaching. He was watching tape in the clubhouse after his third at-bat when batting practice pitcher Ali Modami made him aware of the situation.

Bryce Harper and Craig Stammen nailed Jayson Werth with the postgame Gatorade bath.

Bryce Harper and Craig Stammen nailed Jayson Werth with the postgame Gatorade bath.

“When you start out playing this game, however many years ago, it’s one of those benchmarks you put on the list of things you want to accomplish,” said Werth after the game.

Perhaps overshadowed by Werth’s heroics was the yeoman work put in by Tanner Roark in just his second big league appearance. Coming on in relief of Taylor Jordan, Roark needed just 12 pitches to navigate two scoreless frames on the mound, keeping the Nationals in the game. When Washington pushed in front in the seventh, it lined Roark up for his first Major League win.

“Yeah, I realized it,” said Roark of the situation setting up to possibly provide him with his first victory, a smile creeping out of the corner of his mouth. “Most important, we got the win. The team got the win.”

Both Werth and Roark’s milestone performances proved vital to that happening, though.

Highlights: 8.10.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.10.13 – Nationals 8, Phillies 5

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth had three knocks, the last of which was a go-ahead, two-run home run for the 1000th hit of his career.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark recorded six outs on just 12 pitches for his first Major League win.

It Was Over When: Anthony Rendon‘s two-out, bases-loaded single in the seventh capped a five-run frame to put the game out of reach.

Highlights: 8.7.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.7.13 – Braves 6, Nationals 3

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth broke up Kris Medlen’s early no-hit bid with a two-run shot in the fourth, collecting Washington’s lone multi-hit performance.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark tossed a pair of scoreless frames in his Major League debut.

It Was Over When: Washington loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but Wilson Ramos‘ liner found the mitt of Jason Heyward in right field for the final out.

What to Watch for: 8.6.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Atlanta Braves (68-45) vs. Washington Nationals (54-58)

RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 3.02) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.57) 

Tanner Roark’s 2013 season started about as well as he could have ever expected. The 27-year-old right-hander fired six no-hit innings in his debut for the Syracuse Chiefs, walking two and striking out seven in a road win at Lehigh Valley.

From there, though, the Wilmington, Illinois native struggled, before finally settling in and finding his groove in early May pitching out of the bullpen.

Since then, he’s been nearly unhittable.

Beginning with a scoreless inning at Durham on May 6, Roark made 17 relief appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 16 of them. He moved back into the rotation, where he made eight starts, winning six of them. He has just one loss since mid-April, and since that outing in Durham he is 8-1 with a 1.55 ERA (14 ER/81.1 IP).

All of that led to Roark’s promotion to the Major Leagues on Tuesday, when he was selected from the Chiefs and joined the Nationals in D.C. Twice a double-digit game winner in the minors, this marks Roark’s first time on a big league roster after six Minor League seasons. Originally a 25th-round pick by the Rangers out of the University of Illinois, Roark was acquired by the Nationals along with fellow hurler Ryan Tatusko in exchange for Cristian Guzman back on July 31, 2010. He has pitched in the Washington system ever since, but made huge strides forward this year, easily his best as a professional.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Zimmerman 3B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Ramos C

7. Span CF

8. Rendon 2B

9. Gonzalez LHP

CATCH THIS

Wilson Ramos is batting .320 (24-for-75) with three doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 21 games since returning from a left hamstring injury (missed 48 games during two stints on the disabled list). Ramos’ .906 OPS since his return on July 4 ranks third among big league catchers in that month-plus span, trailing only Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy (1.071) and Atlanta’s Brian McCann (.943).

JULIO ARE YOU

The Nationals have hit opposing starter Julio Teheran fairly well over the last couple of years, including seven players sporting .333 or better averages against him:

Bernadina: .333 (1-3)

Desmond: .444 (4-9)

Harper: .400 (2-5, BB, HR)

LaRoche: .333 (2-6, 3 BB)

Span: .667 (6-9)

Tracy: .667 (2-3)

Werth: .333 (2-6)

GIOLOGY

Gio Gonzalez faces the Braves for the first time since June 1, when he allowed a run on just three hits over seven frames while striking out seven in a no decision at Turner Field. Gonzalez has matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in each of his last two home starts. The lefty has fanned 72 batters in his last 62.0 innings (10.45 K/9 IP), spanning 10 starts.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 537 other followers