Roark worked seven strong innings tonight, allowing just one run, picking up his 10th win of the year and dropping his ERA to 2.82 on the season, and the Nats picked up a 4-1 win in the opener of this three-game set with the slumping Reds.
Denard Span had four hits, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base to pace an offensive performance that saw the Nats pound out 12 hits. This was the eighth straight game they’ve put up double-digit hits.
They left 12 runners on base, but it didn’t matter. Roark made the four runs he was given count.
Here are Matt Williams and Roark after the game.
On Roark: “Really efficient. Really efficient with his pitch count. From the first batter, he was throwing it where he wanted to. He gave up the one run, but if he doesn’t dive for that ball and deflect it, he may not have given up any. Pitched really.”
On if he’s been surprised with what Roark has been able to do: “No, I just think he’s got the ability to throw any pitch in any count for a strike. So if he doesn’t have one that particular day, he can go to others. That’s the art of pitching. He’s just continued to pound the zone and give us a chance every time he goes out.”
On Roark’s journey over the last year: “We saw it last year, right? So everybody was kind of waiting for it to go the other way. But it hasn’t. He’s just continued to work hard and pitch well and compete. I’m proud of him.”
On if Bryce Harper’s OK after his left hand appeared to get bent back on a diving catch: “Yeah. He was fiddling with his wrist a little bit. So we decided to go out. As soon as we stepped out, he waved us off. He dove and felt a little bit of, I guess in football terms, it’d be a stinger. Scared him, it scares us. But he’s OK. No issues.”
On the defensive plays tonight: “Anthony (Rendon) made a nice play on the bunt. It’s difficult when you have that kind of speed and he lays down a bunt, but Anthony made a nice play. Bryce’s play. It’s good. They’re competing, they’re playing hard, and they know if they play good defense, we’ve got a chance to win.”
On Span, who has two straight four-hit games: “He’s been great. Just the key for him I think is hitting the ball back through the middle. We saw that tonight. We’ve seen that the last week or so, really hitting the ball back through the middle and the other way. He’s staying on it.”
On how important the Nats’ defensive turnaround has been: “It’s important. We’ve talked about it from Day 1 of spring training - if you can pitch and play defense, you have a chance every day. Offense will kind of go up and down sometimes, but consistency within the defense and the pitching staff gives you a chance. They’ve played well.”
On his outing: “It was good. Had great defense behind me when we needed it. Harper made a big play out there, saved a big inning. Then also Rendon making a diving play saved a big inning for them, too.”
On if he had command of all his pitches tonight: “Yeah. Felt good. Fastball was working. Two-seamer, four-seamer. Just locating it.”
On his journey: “It’s pretty cool just to think about, because it’s been my dream ever since I was a kid to be up here in the big leagues. Just got the chance last year and took the opportunity to try and run away with it.”
On if he’s even surprised himself with how effective he’s been: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. But I have all the confidence in the world in myself and the team, so it’s been a good ride so far. Keep it going.”