The Nationals were behind quickly in a 6-0 hole in this Sunday series finale and only partially dug out to lose 6-2. Tanner Roark struggled early in this one and continues his June swoon as his 2017 ERA ballooned over 5.00 to finish at 5.15 which sends many pitchers with similar stats to new employment. In Roark’s case, this game was an improvement on his previous game, and many of the hits were of the “seeing eyeball” variety as manager Dusty Baker described it. Roark did stay in the game through the 6th inning and finish strong although he did have to throw a hefty 116 pitches.
Michael Taylor provided the only scoring for the home-team with a two-run home run to get the Nats on the board. In the 5th inning, the Nats mounted one more good scoring opportunity with a Brian Goodwin lead-off single followed by a Bryce Harper double with no outs, and third base coach Bob Henley sent Brian Goodwin from 1st to home where he was easily thrown out and essentially killed any momentum with Daniel Murphy on-deck. The Nationals offense basically checked-out after that point. The large crowd of over 35,000 fans had mostly stayed to the end wishing for another spirited comeback which just did not happen on this day. In fact, the Nationals only managed one-hit the rest of the game after Harper’s double in that 5th inning when Goodwin was thrown-out at the plate.
One of the most hotly debated managerial decisions of the game happened in the 1st inning when you rarely have to strategize other than defensive positioning. Dusty Baker had a choice of pitching to Tucker Barnhart with 2 men-on-base with 2 outs and the pitcher, Scott Feldman, on-deck. Feldman entered the game 0-for-24 this season for a .000 batting average. In fact, Feldman hadn’t had a hit since August 12th of 2015. Barnhart was batting .279 at the time he stepped into the batter’s box. The Reds ran up the score at that point to 3-0. Barnhart was 2-for-2 in Saturday’s game, and entered this game batting .588 in Nationals Park in his 19 career plate appearances which is his best for any stadium in his career. Did we mention Roark’s pitch count was 31 at the time? Easy decision, you walk Barnhart, right? Nope, Roark pitched to Barnhart who lined a bases clearing double just over Bryce Harper‘s glove in a 6-pitch battle to make the score 5-0. Video here. Of course Roark struck-out Feldman on 3 pitches to finish the inning.
The Nationals bullpen finished out the last three innings of the game with another scoreless game which was part of the few positives for the Nationals to carry into the series against the Cubs tomorrow.
For Jose Lobaton‘s statistics, his record is now 6 wins and 15 losses in games he starts. He was 0-for-3 in the game as his batting average dropped to .141. The Reds back-up catcher, Tucker Barnhart, finished his day with a .285 batting average, more than double what Lobaton is at. Barnhart’s record in starts is 20 wins and 24 losses, but the Reds have a losing record. Lobaton wasn’t the reason the Nationals lost this one, but Mike Rizzo should look for an upgrade if he can.
For Roark, he will be back at it on Friday in St. Louis against the Cardinals.
“Just make your pitch,” Tanner Roark said after the game. “Locate it well. And hope you have luck on your side. I’ll build off this one and keep chugging along.”
“I felt like I was making my pitches,” Roark continued. “Sometimes stuff like that happens. You can’t get overwhelmed or mad about it. Just tip your cap and keep going out there. I was happy to stay out there as long as I did and finish the game.”