A big boy save on top of Tanner Roark’s gem; Harper powers offense!

The boxscore sometimes lies. The Nationals won a nail-biter that should have been a 4-2 no stress win and save for the Nationals that began with a Sean Doolittle lead-off walk followed by an error by the sure-handed Anthony Rendon that could have been a doubleplay. The error put Sean Doolittle in a jam — that Doolittle worked out of for a “big boy” save.  Tanner Roark in my opinion had his best outing of the season and only a grounder down the line and a poorly played flyball turned into the 2-runs on Roark’s ledger.

Roark mixed up his arsenal from his normal 13% curveballs to 26.2% of them tonight and only 46 fastballs. He didn’t even attempt to throw the 2-seam swingback fastball in this outing and instead mixed in a curveball and slider combo that was weighted with a steady diet of curveballs. Overall, Roark was filthy and racked up 11 strikeouts.

The scoring opened on a tape measure home run by Bryce Harper that went over the centerfield pool that went to the second level. It was a rude greeting for rookie the lefty call-up Anthony Banda as Harper was the 3rd batter he would face in his career and victimized Banda for his 25th home run of the season and the 146th of his career.

Every Nats position player had at least one hit, but the Nats still struggled with runners on 3rd and should have blown the game open. Brian Goodwin had 3-hits but had an inexcusable out at 3rd on a double that should have been a stand-up triple if Goodwin hustled out of the box. Chris Heisey had a hustle triple that got the team going in a 3-run 6th inning.

Ryan Zimmerman had 2-hits including an RBI double but in a matchup against a lefty reliever with bases loaded, Zimmerman struck-out. He must capitalize with runners on 3rd base which continues to haunt him since last season.

In the bullpen, Ryan Madson did pitch tonight after his 21-pitch performance last night and he pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Any time that Madson threw 20 or more pitches with the Oakland Athletics this season he wasn’t pitched 2 games in a row. Madson threw another 15 pitches tonight. Sean Doolittle earned his second save even though in his second appearance with the Nats he walked the lead-off man — in this case, it was a lefty batter. Doolittle got his doubleplay grounder that was thrown away by Rendon putting Doolittle in a no outs spot with Paul Goldschmidt batting and Doolittle got a long flyout to put the dangerous Goldy away. Doolittle threw a total of 18 pitcher of which were all fastballs. Bryce Harper was impressed with his new teammates poise, and the fact there was no visible sign of panic.

“Madson’s been great for us,” Bryce Harper said. “And Doolittle, seeing him come over and do the things he’s doing, he never panics, and it’s great to see.”

“Hopefully we get one more guy in that ‘pen for a three-headed monster,” Bryce Harper continued.

We agree with you Bryce!

As mentioned earlier, the Nationals have 4 outfielders on the roster and Ryan Raburn is departing for the funeral of his grandfather. To complicate the situation, Chris Heisey hurt his groin in this game which leaves the Nationals with two healthy outfielders plus fill-ins like Wilmer Difo and Adam Lind. Stay tuned on this and whether we see the call-up of Andrew Stevenson.

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