More stats, thoughts and quotes after yesterday's 1-0 victory over the Mets, which sent the Nationals off on their final road trip of the regular season owning a commanding 10-game lead in the National League East, with the magic number down to seven ...
* Tanner Roark knows he's going to have to step up as the Nats' No. 2 starter for the postseason with Stephen Strasburg out. Truth is, Roark doesn't need to step up. He just needs to keep being who he has been throughout his career.
Roark churned out yet another dominant performance yesterday, holding the Mets to three hits over seven innings. It was the ninth time this season he pitched seven or more scoreless frames, tops in the majors and two better than the next closest pursuer: Jake Arrieta.
For the season, Roark is now 15-8 with a 2.75 ERA. That ranks him fifth in the NL in ERA, tied for fourth in wins. He has thrown 193 1/3 innings, fourth-most in the league.
"The one thing about Tanner is, he's probably one of the most highly competitive guys that I've met," said bench coach Chris Speier, who filled in for the absent Dusty Baker as manager yesterday. "He leaves everything out on the field. You look at talent, you try to grade the guy out, and there isn't going to be a whole lot of things that are at the top of the list. But that competitive spirit and what he gives in that competition, there isn't a better guy that I'd want out there on the mound."
This, of course, is nothing new. Though he struggled at times last season while bouncing back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen, Roark has been this effective since the day he first arrived in the big leagues.
Consider this: For his career, Roark now is 41-26 with a 2.99 ERA. Only seven big leaguers own lower ERAs in that same timeframe: Clayton Kershaw, Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner and Max Scherzer.
That's some ultra-exclusive company right there. Those are the very best pitchers in baseball. And guess what? Roark deserves to stand alongside them all.
* Wilson Ramos had been in something of a prolonged slump for a while. During a 20-game stretch from Aug. 17 through Sept. 11, he was batting a mere .167 with a .217 on-base percentage and .231 slugging percentage.
The All-Star catcher, though, seems to have rediscovered something in his swing the last few days. He went 4-for-9 with two walks, a double, a homer and five RBIs during this three-game series against the Mets.
And Ramos' towering home run into the Red Porch seats in left-center yesterday was among the best swings he has put forth in some time.
Ramos cited improved patience for his uptick the last few days.
"These last three games, I've felt very good taking my walks," he said, through interpreter Octavio Martinez. "Meaning I've been looking at a lot of pitches and being more selective. I've just been feeling more comfortable and just more relaxed at home."
Ramos' batting average, which stood as high as .331 as recently as Aug. 16, had dropped to .302. He's back up to .304 now, with 21 homers and 78 RBIs.
* With a first-inning single yesterday, Daniel Murphy completed a remarkable season against his former team. Murphy (like the Nationals) played the Mets 19 times. He recorded a hit in all 19 games. Only the Cubs' Derek Lee (against the Cardinals in 2004) and the Astros' Jose Altuve (against the Athletics in 2014) had previously had a 19-game hitting streak against one opponent in one season since 1969.
* With yet another 2-for-4 performance yesterday, Trea Turner notched his 29th multi-hit game. Only Murphy (55), Anthony Rendon (40) and Ramos (34) have more on the Nationals roster this season. But keep in mind, Turner has played in only 57 big league games, only 54 of which were starts. Just remarkable.