By Michael Marzzacco
Last weekend in DC, the Nationals took the first two games of a four game set against the Marlins only to see Miami win the last two by a big margin. Tanner Roark took the mound and finally exorcised his demons against the fish as the Nats picked up a 4-1 win.
Miami has been Roark’s achilles heel all season. Against the fish he entered Friday night’s game 0-3 with a whooping 8.40 ERA. He finally came through with a solid outing and put his critics to rest. In 6 and 2/3 innings he struck out seven hitters and allowed six hits. The lone run he allowed was a solo shot by Marcell Ozuna in the fourth inning. It was all the Marlins could muster.
“I mixed it up a little bit, the game within the game. It was a little minor adjustment that I did and it worked,” said Roark.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton entered the weekend in a slump, going hitless in 10 at-bats and striking out nine times against the suddenly surging Phillies. Friday night he finished 0 for 4 with three strikeouts which resulted in his average dropping to .214.
Marlins starting pitcher Justin Nicolino has had similar struggles facing Washington just like Roark had facing Miami. You knew something had to give. He went 5 and 1/3 innings allowing four runs on six hits while striking out two.
“I think he was missing over the plate. I think we just took advantage of it, put a four spot on him. That was the difference in the game. He’s got good stuff,” Jayson Werth said.
The Nats bats took off in the second inning where they scored all four of their runs in the frame. Two came courtesy of the long ball. Ryan Zimmerman led off with a home run into left field. Anthony Rendon followed with a double into left field. Wilson Ramos hit a double of his own to send Rendon home which put Washington up 2-0. After Danny Espinosa and Roark struck out, Michael Taylor came up and hit a two-run shot into the left field seats which put Washington up 4-0.
Speaking of Werth, he celebrated his 37th birthday by going 2 for 4. He has a .224 average on his special day but has gone 6 for 13 with two homers and five RBIs since joining the Nationals back in 2011.
Hopefully we’ll have a few more years to get the numbers up a little bit,” Werth added.
Roark left the game in the seventh after giving up a walk with two outs. Left-hand reliever Felipe Rivero entered the game and allowed a single to Derek Dietrich which brought Martin Prado up with a chance to tie the game. Rivero escaped unharmed as he forced Prado to hit a ground ball to the mound to end the inning and the threat. It would be the closest the Marlins would come.
The Nats move 4 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins and remain in first place in the NL East. Miami dropped their third straight game. Tonight’s pitching matchup features Joe Ross for the Nats and Jose Fernandez for the Marlins with a 7:15 first pitch.