Saturday morning notes on Turner, Roark and Mets pitching

NEW YORK - Some Saturday morning notes to chew over while contemplating the Nationals’ 4-3 11-inning victory over the Mets, their five-game winning streak and their three-game lead in the division ...

* Even though Trea Turner was activated off the disabled list Friday, Dusty Baker didn’t want to throw his young star right back into the lineup, especially on a cold night at Citi Field. But Baker did want Turner available off the bench in case his services were needed at some point.

Well, they were, in a fairly big spot.

Turner’s first major league at-bat in 13 days? It came with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the top of the 11th inning. Against Jeurys Familia.

Turner, of course, wound up drawing a four-pitch walk to “drive” in the game-winning run. But that couldn’t have been a particularly comfortable at-bat, given the situation, right?

trea-turner-surprised-close.jpg“Facing Familia is never comfortable,” the shortstop said. “He’s pretty damn good. I was just looking for something in the middle of the zone, and thankfully he walked me to give us that run we needed. But it felt good. It felt fun to be back out there, and good win.”

Given the fact Familia had just walked Anthony Rendon to load the bases, was Turner intent on taking pitches until he had at least one strike against him?

“No, absolutely not,” Turner insisted. “Because he’s going to throw a pitch right down the middle as soon as you think that, and you’re going to say: ‘Why didn’t I swing?’ So if you get one pitch off that guy, you got to hit it, because he’s got some nasty stuff.”

Turner is expected to be in the lineup this afternoon, likely leading off and playing shortstop.

Based on how his recovered hamstring felt Friday night, he’s not worried about any lingering effects.

“I felt great,” he said. “I felt like I was doing stuff all game to stay warm, but kind of looking back at it, I almost felt like I didn’t really need to. I felt normal. I didn’t feel stiff, or tired or anything. It feels good to be back.”

* Tanner Roark made a couple of mistakes, most notably the home runs he surrendered to Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson. But the right-hander did what he most always does, and what every member of the Nationals rotation continues to do this season: Provide innings and give his team a chance to win.

Roark wound up allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings (one of the runs could’ve been avoided had Daniel Murphy been able to turn an inning-ending double play in the fourth).

That gives the Nationals rotation 14 quality starts in 16 games to begin the season, tops in the majors by a healthy margin. (The Pirates, Mets and Royals rank next with 11 a piece.)

“That’s our job,” Roark said. “Our job is to go out there and work quick, get our offense back in the dugout and go as hard as we can for as long as we can. And not give in to anybody or anything. That’s what starting pitching is all about, and we’ve got a good collection of guys that do that.”

If you’re wondering about the two non-quality starts so far this year ... the first, obviously, was Jeremy Guthrie’s 10-runs-in-two-thirds-of-an-inning fiasco in Philadelphia. The other came two nights later, when Roark needed 104 pitches just to go five innings against the Cardinals (though he did allow only three earned runs).

Overall, the Nats rotation ranks eighth in the majors with a 3.41 ERA. But throw out the Guthrie start - would that they could - and that ERA plummets to 2.53. That would rank second, behind only the Royals’ 2.36 rotation ERA.

* Gio Gonzalez is on the mound for the Nationals later this afternoon, and he’ll be trying to continue not only his strong start to the season (1.33 ERA in three starts) but also his longtime dominance of the Mets. Gonzalez is 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA in 20 career starts against New York.

Jacon deGrom is supposed to start for the Mets after a stiff neck prevented him from pitching Friday night. But the club has a contingency plan in case he can’t go: Sean Gilmartin. If Gilmartin has to go, he’d become the first left-handed starter the Nationals have faced this season.

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