Tanner Roark is not known as a strikeout pitcher but after today’s outing, maybe that will change. The Nats’ righthander fanned 15 Twins to pace Washington to a 2-0 victory this afternoon.
NATS RECORD- 13-4
WP- Roark (2-2) LP- Hughes (1-3) SV- Papelbon (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- A Model of Efficiency
Situational reliever Oliver Perez may not be among the most well-known Nats by the casual fan, but his effort on Saturday helped keep Tanner Roark’s brilliant effort from going down the tubes. Entering the game in the top of the eighth with a man on, one out and the tying run at the plate, Perez retired Eddie Rosario on a fly ball to center on his first pitch and fanned the dangerous Joe Mauer on his next three to keep the Nats’ 2-0 lead in tact.
Second Star- Making Them Count
Ryan Zimmerman has been an all-star, a gold glove winner and a earned silver slugger awards while playing for the Nats. Over the past few years health issues have kept Zimmerman from achieving at his past levels, but he’s been a consistent run producer even when not totally himself.
In an injury plagued 2015 campaign Zim drove in 73 runs in only 95 games, and he showed his RBI form today as his two run first inning single gave Roark all the support he’d need to lead the Nats to victory. Zimmerman capped his fine day with a sterling play at first base on a smash by the talented Mauer for the first out of the top of the sixth inning.
Star of the Game- A Dominant Effort
Roark is often the forgotten man in the Nats’ talented rotation, but he was the center of everyone’s focus on Saturday. His 15 strikeouts were the most ever at Nationals Park, and he registered only the 14th game since 2005 where a pitcher has fanned at least 15 batters, allowed no runs and gave up two or fewer hits. That feat was done five different times last year, including twice by Roark’s teammate Max Scherzer.
Valiant in a Losing Cause
Minnesota’s Phil Hughes gave up only two runs on six hits in his seven innings of work. Showing his usual fine control and keeping the long ball from stinging him as it has often done in the past, Hughes kept his team in the game.
Bryce Harper’s two doubles on the game gave him 14 extra-base hits on the season, the high in the Major Leagues heading into Saturday evening’s games.
Washington’s win was its seventh straight at home this year. The Nats’ longest win streak in home games is 12, set from June 2, 2005 through June 25, 2005.
Last night, Twins’ rookie Miguel Sano impressed with his power bat. Today he had a day to forget in the batter’s box (he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts), but he looked good at the hot corner. The large youngster made several fine plays at third base, the best being his effort to retire Anthony Rendon for the first out in the bottom of the eighth.
Stephen Strasburg takes the hill for the Nats tomorrow, looking for his fourth win in as many starts on the year. In his career, Strasburg is 7-3 with a 2.69 ERA in interleague games. He has fanned 108 batters in 80.1 innings pitched against American League teams. Minnesota’s young starter Tyler Duffey is slated to make his first start of the 2016 season. Last year, Duffey went 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA and allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his ten starts.