Sep 4, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT
It’s been more than two months since Tanner Roark started a game for the Nationals, his season broken into multiple parts that have included stints as a long reliever, short reliever, spot starter and minor-league starter. He just served as the latter, making two minor-league starts in advance of his return to the Nats’ rotation tonight against Atlanta, when he’ll be limited to roughly 85 pitches.
Julio Teheran is the next man up for the Braves, whose pitching staff has been absolutely pummeled recently. During this stretch in which they’ve lost 16-of-17 games, they’ve posted a collective 7.70 ERA and 1.80 WHIP. Yikes. We’ll see if the Nationals can continue to take advantage.
Updates to come, so please check back…
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Muggy, 84 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from RF
RF Jayson Werth
2B Anthony Rendon
CF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Yunel Escobar
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Tanner Roark
RF Nick Markakis
CF Cameron Maybin
1B Freddie Freeman
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Adonis Garcia
2B Jace Peterson
SS Andrelton Simmons
LF Michael Bourn
RHP Julio Teheran
HP Paul Emmel
1B Jerry Meals (cc)
2B Andy Fletcher
3B Clint Fagan
7:05 p.m. — We are underway on a muggy, mostly overcast night here at Nationals Park. No rain to this point, though there’s still a slight chance of some before the game is over.
7:24 p.m. — Well, that was an interesting first inning. Tanner Roark got into some trouble, but he got out of it in part by picking Cameron Maybin off first base, which became huge when Freddie Freeman doubled off the right-field wall. So Roark escaped the inning with no damage. Speaking of damage, that’s what Bryce Harper did in the bottom of the inning. He finally got a pitch to hit — a 3-2 fastball down the middle — and boy did he hit it. Into the second deck in deep right-center, a 446-foot blast. That’s Harper’s 32nd homer of the season and his third career in 22 at-bats vs. Julio Teheran (he’s 10-for-22 with three homers and three doubles). Nats lead 1-0 after one.
7:38 p.m. — Pitch count is going to be a big deal for Roark tonight, because he’s restricted to roughly 85. The good news is he’s through two innings on only 26 pitches, thanks to a 1-2-3 top of the second. So far, so good. Still 1-0 Nats after two.
8:04 p.m. — Talk about the Barry Bonds treatment: The Braves just intentionally walked Harper with runners on the corners and two outs, loading the bases for Zimmerman, who seems like he’s had the bases loaded every other at-bat this week. The gamble worked, though, because Zim skied a flyball to right to end the inning. For the season, though, he’s 4-for-6 with the bases loaded, with a homer, a walk, eight sac flies and 17 RBI. It’s 1-1 after three, thanks to a misplay in left field by Clint Robinson on Freeman’s sinking liner and A.J. Pierzysnki’s cue-shot down the third-base line for an RBI.
8:23 p.m. — Golden opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a ball through Adonis Garcia’s legs and a walk to Yunel Escobar. But Nick Markakis made a nice catch of Ian Desmond’s liner down the right-field line, and then Teheran showed quick reflexes to snag Jose Lobaton’s comebacker and start an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play. So it remains 1-1 after four.
8:45 p.m. — Matt Williams has come under plenty of fire lately for managing “by the book” too much. Well, he just went against the book and made a bold move, pulling Roark with one out in the fifth and the bases loaded, going to Matt Thornton to match up against the left-handed A.J. Pierzynski. And it worked. Pierzynski popped out and Garcia grounded out, so a nice job by Thornton gets the Nats through the fifth with the game still 1-1. That was a high leverage situation and Williams wasn’t afraid to play matchups, even though it was only the fifth inning.
9:03 p.m. — Williams’ bullpen decisions are coming up winners so far in this game. Felipe Rivero set the Braves down in order in the top of the sixth inning on just five pitches. But the Nats yet again squandered a bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the frame, with Ian Desmond striking out and Jose Lobaton flying out to end the threat. It’s still tied 1-1 as we head to the seventh.
9:20 p.m. — Rivero came out for a second inning of work and once again set the Braves down in order. But old friend Edwin Jackson held the Nats scoreless as well. So onto the eighth we go, and here comes Drew Storen.
9:41 p.m. — And Storen’s struggles continue. He yielded the go-ahead run in the eighth when he allowed a leadoff double by — who else — Freeman which was later followed by an RBI single by the pinch-hitting Nick Swisher. The Nats couldn’t rally with the middle of the order up after Harper was stranded at first. Jonathan Papelbon will work the ninth down 2-1.
10:07 p.m. — Free baseball, everyone! The Nats rallied in the ninth to tie the game at 2-2 after Matt den Dekker’s RBI single to drive in Trea Turner. We head to extra innings with Papelbon coming back on to work the 10th.
10:30 p.m. — And how about that? Michael Taylor, who started this game on the bench with a bruised knee, hits a walk-off three-run shot to end the game and give the Nats a huge 5-2 win. More coverage soon.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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