Tanner Roark looked strong in his season debut, and Ryan Zimmerman had four hits including a homer as the Washington Nationals swept the New York Mets to complete their opening series in New York City.
Jordan Zimmermann, who was supposed to start today, was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms. Roark was informed he would be starting this morning and came out of the gate slow. In the bottom of the first, Daniel Murphy and David Wright both singled. Curtis Granderson then doubled to right scoring Murphy and sending Wright to third. After a Lucas Duda walk, Juan Lagaras lifted a sacrifice fly to Denard Span that allowed David Wright to score. Roark got Travis d’Arnaud to fly out to right to stop the bleeding with the score Mets 2, Nats 0.
After the rocky start Roark settled down and did not allow another run. Overall, this was an incredibly strong first start for Roark. After the first, he was able to locate his curveball and fastball, and the Mets could not get anything started off of him. He threw six innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits, three of which came in the first inning, with five strikeouts. Roark seemed to get stronger as the game went on and he struck out the final four batters he faced.
The Nationals offense continued their robust start to the season as the team scored 14 runs in its first two games. Today was no different.
Zimmerman led off the top of the second inning with a homer to left making the score 2-1. The Nats then tied the game in the fifth. Sandy Leon, who was making his first start of 2014 at catcher, walked and was sacrificed to second by Roark. Span singled him home to tie the game and then moved up on the throw home. After a Bryce Harper fly out, Jayson Werth singled to score Span and give the Nats a 3-2 lead.
From there, the Nationals kept their foot on the gas pedal. In the seventh, Scott Hairston and Bryce Harper singled to start the inning. After a pitching change, Werth walked to load the bases. Adam LaRoche then broke the game open with a two-RBI single. Zimmerman then singled scoring another. LaRoche made it home on a throwing error by Daniel Murphy giving the Nats a 7-2 lead after seven innings.
The Nats added another run in the eighth to make the final score 8-2. The team will host the Atlanta Braves tomorrow afternoon for their home opener at Nationals Park.
- Bryce Harper has looked shaky to begin the year. He is currently hitting .154 with six strikeouts in 13 at bats. Part of his struggle could be attributed to his fluctuation in the batting order. Manager Matt Williams has hit him in the five, six, and second spots in the first three games of the year. He strengths as a hitter and a base runner seem to make either the second or fifth spots a logical place for him in the order. Either way it will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
- The Nats starting pitchers have let up a run in the first inning of every game so far this season. Though this can fly against a team like the Mets, they cannot afford to keep this streak going with the Braves coming to town.
- Danny Espinosa got the start today at second base and he looked solid. He looked relaxed at the plate compared to his hectic season last year and it seemed to pay off with two doubles. The better he hits this year, the more options the Nats will have off of the bench.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)