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Roark passes another test with save against Marlins

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Roark passes another test with save against Marlins

In his relatively short MLB career, Tanner Roark has already gone from afterthought prospect to surprise bullpen contributor to a 15-win starter and now back to relieving, somehow finding success at each stop. The former 25th round pick who lost 17 games at Triple-A the year before he debuted has become a baseball renaissance man. Ask him to do just about anything and he will do it well.

But before Monday night, there was one thing Roark had not done. He's been excellent in middle relief, long relief, setup situations and as a starter, so what about closing? Sure, why not.

Roark finally got the opportunity to save a game in the Nationals' 6-4 win over the Marlins on Monday night due to closer Drew Storen being unavailable. Storen had pitched on consecutive nights, so Matt Williams needed somebody to step in.

Rookie Sammy Solis was also warming up in the bullpen when the phone rang, but Roark's name was called.

"He's been in big moments, been in big games, it doesn't matter to him which inning it is. It's about getting outs," Williams said.

Roark had last saved a game on June 7, 2013 with Triple-A Syracuse. Roark doesn't even remember getting the save that day, so this all felt very new to him.

"I was definitely amped up big-time," he said. "Especially since we tied the game and went ahead. I was just even more amped up and ready to get out there. It was an adrenaline rush."

Despite allowing a one-out single to Dee Gordon, Roark shut the door on the Marlins and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout against feared slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton came to the plate with two outs and Gordon on second. He gets a hold of one, it could tie the game.

"He's a great hitter," Roark said. "I was trying to make him chase my pitches and it worked out that way. I'm just grateful for that. I'm glad we came out on top in a huge win."

Roark started the count with three balls before firing three consecutive strikes. The first caught Stanton looking and the final two got him swinging on balls that crossed the outside of the plate.

"He got behind him. Gave him a 3-0 fastball that he took, then two really good sliders," Williams said. "It's never comfortable when he stands at the plate, but Tanner made some good pitches tonight."

With how good Roark has been since debuting in August of 2013, him going out and earning a save like he's done it before came as no surprise to his teammates and manager.

"Any role you put him in, he kinda thrives it seems like. He’s definitely an asset to our team and it’s fun to watch him get better and better each time he goes out there," Ian Desmond said.

"It's a testament to his attitude and his work ethic. He's excited to pitch, whenever that is. Whether that's starting a game, whether that's in the sixth inning, whether that's closing a game," Williams explained.

"Circumstances dictate sometimes that there are different roles for guys, and he's the perfect mentality to put in that role, because it doesn't much matter to him. It's about three outs and that's all."

 

 

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.