ATLANTA - Not only has Tanner Roark come on and delivered four scoreless innings in relief of Stephen Strasburg after Strasburg was ejected in the second inning, but Roark has delivered with the bat, as well.
Quite a night for the rookie right-hander.
Up for his second career major league at-bat with two outs in the top of the fifth, Roark smoked an RBI double to left-center, scoring Tyler Moore from first and boosting the Nationals’ lead to 5-2.
It was obviously the first career hit and RBI for Roark, who was just called up by the Nats last week.
Roll that baseball towards the Nats dugout, folks. The ball will be waiting for Roark in his locker after the game.
The offensive production is great, but the Nats care much more about how well Roark has performed on the mound. And tonight, he’s been exceptional.
Roark has struck out six over his four frames, and this comes when he had no idea he’d suddenly be entering a game in the bottom of the second after Strasburg was ejected.
The 26-year-old has now started his major league career by going 10 innings without allowing an earned run. In that time, he’s allowed just five hits, one walk and struck out seven.
Roark already had two wins in just over a week and a half in the big leagues. He now has a hit and an RBI to add to that, his ERA is still 0.00, and if this score holds, he’ll tack yet another victory onto his line and become 3-0 on the season.
The Nats have a 5-2 lead as we go to the sixth in what feels like the slowest-moving game in the history of baseball.
Update: Ian Desmond’s RBI single in the top of the sixth gave the Nats a 6-2 lead, but that four-run advantage didn’t last long.
Fernando Abad came in to work the sixth and promptly allowed a single to Freddie Freeman and a two-run homer to Brian McCann, making it a 6-4 game.
Abad has now allowed at least one run in four of his last five appearances, spanning four innings. He has a 6.17 ERA since July 8.
The Nats, meanwhile, have scored all six of their runs tonight with two outs. The clutch hitting has been there for one night, at least.
Update II: Drew Storen delivered a powerhouse seventh inning, striking out the side, including Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.
Storen has now worked two scoreless innings over the last two days since coming back up from the minors. He allowed one hit and struck out five. Big-time stuff from him.
Ryan Zimmerman then delivered a solo homer in the top of the eighth, but Tyler Clippard gave that run right back in the bottom half of the inning when Freeman went yard out to center.
It’s a 7-5 game as we go to the ninth. Rafael Soriano will start to get loose.
Update III: As if this ballgame couldn’t get any more nuts ...
Soriano served up a game-tying, two-run homer to Jason Heyward with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, making it a 7-7 game and sending us to extra innings.
This is Soriano’s second straight blown save. It would have been his third straight if not for Denard Span’s diving grab that closed out a win over the Giants in dramatic fashion.
Overall, this is Soriano’s sixth blown save this season.
He walked Gerald Laird with one out, and two batters later left a 93 mph fastball over the heart of the plate. Heyward didn’t miss it.
The Nats lost Scott Hairston to an ejection for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the ninth, bringing the ailing Bryce Harper into the game to play left field. They had Strasburg and Davey Johnson ejected earlier in the game.
They’ll now need to try and somehow come back from another punch to the gut.