CINCINNATI - Tanner had a big influence in deciding the Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Reds Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
Both of them.
In December of 2018, the Nationals traded starting pitcher Tanner Roark to the Reds for reliever Tanner Rainey. Saturday in Cincinnati they played against each other on the same field.
Gerardo Parra cranked a three-run homer and Matt Adams slammed a solo shot off Roark (4-4), who spent six seasons with the Nats. The pair came in with excellent splits against the right-hander and did not disappoint. It was Parra’s second career homer and Adams’ third career roundtripper off of Roark.
“Like I say every time, I prepare myself for the opportunity,” Parra said of the game-changing homer. “Just played hard. Try to do my best for my team. It’s a big day today because we won. I don’t try too much just only try hitting the ball good. In that situation I hit a homer. So happy for that.”
Parra’s homer was his eighth all-time against the Reds, tying the same number he has against the Dodgers for most against one team in his career.
Martinez laughed when asked what Parra’s play reminds him of: “He’s like a young Dave Martinez!
“He’s a veteran guy. He loves to play. He’s very smart, a smart player. He loves to play the game and I am glad we were able to get him.”
Rainey (1-1) pitched well out of the bullpen to sustain the lead with four big outs. He earned his first major league victory against the team that dealt him away.
“Obviously it was a little more for me to come back here and be able to face some of the guys I played with in previous years,” Rainey said. “So, it was definitely a special moment. But at the end of the day it’s still a game, coming in trying to compete, doing everything I can to keep us where we were.”
In the fifth with a man on third, Rainey struck out Yasiel Puig. Then in the sixth, Rainey walked Tucker Barnhart, but bore down to strike out pinch-hitter Josh VanMeter and the dangerous Nick Senzel on a foul tip. Rainey finished with three punchouts.
“For me that one kind of set the tone,” Rainey said of his strikeout of Puig. “I come in (and Eugenio) Suárez was still at third. Inherited runners are key. Come in and shut them down, keep them stranded. That’s the biggest part that I focus on, especially out of the pen.
“Honestly, I didn’t know I got the win until the end of the game. It was something that I didn’t think about (or) something that I was worried about. Obviously for me the first win here? It is special.”
The Reds 2015 second round pick was not the only one who shined out of the bullpen for the Nats. Matt Grace induced a third double play, Wander Suero tossed two scoreless frames and Sean Doolittle earned his 11th save with a clean ninth inning.
“They’ve done a great job,” Martinez said. “They’re pitching really well, they’re making their pitches, hitting their location. That was a tall task today for them and they came in they did a good job. Rainey big out, goes back out gets three outs, and Suero with two unbelievable innings and Doolittle (to) close it out. What a great outing for the bullpen.”
Starter Erick Fedde (1-0) was taxed for a season-high 85 pitches in four innings (plus one batter), but induced a pair of double plays and stayed away from the big inning. He allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Fedde was tested in every inning, nothing was easy, but Martinez liked the way his 26-year-old hurler never lost his nerve.
“Let me tell you about Fedde,” Martinez said. “He had his struggles but he maintained his composure and poise and gave us all he had. He had a lot of pitches and a lot of stressful innings. But he went out there and took the ball and that only shows me that he maturing and getting a lot better up here which is great.”
With his team leading 3-0 in the second and two men on, Fedde corralled a sacrifice bunt by Roark and threw the ball to first for the second out of the inning. Instead of panicking and throwing the ball into right field, Fedde recorded the sure out and the Reds scored only one run. The Nats still led 3-1.
“I think that’s just been the mentality of this year,” Fedde said. “Stay away from the big innings. And I think maybe that play at home if (Roark) is safe, something could have blown out, especially with a three-run lead there. It’s just about not panicking, even start the game with the double and then keep them from scoring is big. Just trying to take it one pitch at a time.”
Roark allowed four runs on six hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. He threw 89 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Juan Soto’s career-high 14-game hit streak came to an end. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Parra finished with three hits, two singles and the homer. Anthony Rendon had a pair of base hits and a walk.
A win Sunday would be the Nats fourth road series victory of the season and their first against an NL Central team.