A crowd of 30,714 welcomed the Washington Nationals home for their first game since clinching the 2014 National League East crown on Tuesday night. And – as a “thank you” of sorts – starting pitcher Tanner Roark led his team to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets.
Roark threw 86 pitches and 58 strikes in 6 1/3 innings pitched while giving up two runs on five hits and striking out one batter in his fifteenth win of the season. The only trouble he truly encountered were the first three hits he gave up – they were all doubles.
New York scored first in the fifth inning off a pair of those doubles. Second baseman Wilmer Flores led off the inning with a double and proceeded to score off a one-out double his by outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. But thanks to a hot-hitting Adam LaRoche, the Nats answered back in the bottom half of the inning.
Third baseman Kevin Frandsen led off the fifth with a single off Mets’ right-handed starter Bartolo Colon and moved to second on a sacrifice laid down by Roark. A double hit by rookie outfielder Michael Taylor – who replaced starter Denard Span in the third after Span made a miraculous catch in center field robbing outfielder Matt den Dekker of a hit and potential homerun – sent Frandsen home to put the Nats on the scoreboard. Outfielder Jayson Werth continued the rally’s efforts drawing a two-out walk before LaRoche continued to do what he’s done off Colon all season – hit him. He jacked a three-run homerun to the home bullpen in right field to give the Nats the lead; Mets 1, Nats 4.
Washington maintained that lead despite a rocky seventh inning in which four pitchers took the mound. Roark was replaced with men on the base path – one of which would score – by left-handed reliever Ross Detwiler but Detwiler only lasted a third of an inning before being replaced by righty Aaron Barrett. Both Detwiler and Barrett gave up a walk but lefty Jerry Blevins took over to tally the inning’s much needed final out; Mets 2, Nats 4.
The rest of the night was smooth for the Nats. Manager Matt Williams went with right-handed relievers Tyler Cilppard and Drew Storen in the eighth and ninth innings respectively and the men did their jobs as expected. Clippard struck out one batter and gave up a triple while at work but that was a result of outfielder Bryce Harper flat out missing a ball in left field hit by catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Storen followed with two strikeouts and single hit by shortstop Ruben Tejada before closing it out for his tenth save of the season; Mets 2, Nats 4.