Between limited use during the World Baseball classic and his last exhibition start being rained out, Tanner Roark had only seen 10 and 2/3 innings of game action over the course of the last month. This caused some folks to be concerned that he wasn’t quite ready for the season to start as he made his way to the mound in last night’s game against the Miami Marlins. Although the Nats eventually won the game 6-4, that concern for Roark’s lack of work this spring really sparked some nerves during the first two innings.
In the first inning alone, it took Roark 29 pitches to give up two runs and eventually get out of the inning. Throughout the inning, the crowd wasn’t pleased with how the home plate umpire had a relatively small strike zone. But part of that was really just frustration with Roark being a little wild.
The right hander walked two batters during the first inning and then proceeded to start the second inning by hitting Derek Dietrich with a slider in the mid-80’s. He also hit Dee Gordon with a fastball later on in the second inning, which caused a fair amount of concern even though he ended up getting out of the inning without giving up a run.
Fortunately, Roark appears to have flipped a switch when he came out for the third. From the third through sixth inning, only former National Tyler Moore was able to get on base when he hit a pinch hit double in the fifth inning. He ended up pitching six innings and only giving up three hits while having six strikeouts.
On top of that, the Nationals were able to step it up on offense to help build up some momentum. They were able to first get on the board in the bottom of the second as Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo homer to right center field. Then it was in the fourth inning that the offense really got going.
After Adam Eaton walked on four straight balls, he scored on a Bryce Harper double. Harper then scored on a single from Daniel Murphy before Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth both got on to load the bases for Matt Wieters. The new catcher then ended the day of Marlins’ starter Dan Straily when he drove in Murphy and Zimmerman on a grounder to left field.
Bryce Harper drove in another run during the bottom of the fifth to bring the Nationals’ total runs to six. This ended up being more than enough for Washington, but that didn’t prevent some fans from getting nervous during the bottom of the ninth.
The bullpen had struggled during the eighth inning and J.T. Realmuto had hit a solo homer to make the score 6-3, which should have left more than enough of a comfort zone heading into the ninth. That’s especially the case when Treinen quickly retired the first two batters he faced during his second game as the Nationals’ closer.
The excitement began with two outs though as Dee Gordon hit a single to center field before proceeding to steal second. He then scored on a soft fly to right field by Realmuto. A couple fans near me began openly calling for Treinen to be taken out at this point, even though he still had a comfortable two run lead. Fortunately, the fans were overly worried as Treinen was able to immediately turn things around and strike out Christian Yelich to end the game.