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Roark settles in, Nats get to work vs. Marlins

April 5, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had been worried about whether Tanner Roark had pitched enough this spring, and that concern might've escalated in the first two innings Wednesday, when the Marlins had him on the ropes. But Roark retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, and Washington rewarded him

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had been worried about whether Tanner Roark had pitched enough this spring, and that concern might've escalated in the first two innings Wednesday, when the Marlins had him on the ropes. But Roark retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, and Washington rewarded him with a key four-run fourth inning in a 6-4 victory over Miami.
Roark entered having thrown 10 2/3 innings of game action in the past month, after he saw limited time in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. Roark, who also had his final exhibition start cancelled because of rain, struggled with his command in the first two innings vs. the Marlins, surrendering a two-run single to Marcell Ozuna, as well as hitting two batters and walking two.
But the righty finished with six innings of two-run ball, allowing three hits and striking out six over six innings. Roark threw 97 pitches, exceeding the Nats' original pitch count plan by seven.

"I was maybe thinking too much out there and throwing a lot of pitches," Roark said. "Nibbling, per se. But after that second inning, got my mindset right and went out there and attacked."

Meanwhile, the Nationals rallied against Marlins starter Dan Straily, who allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings. Ryan Zimmerman got the Nats on the board with a solo homer in the second inning. Then, Washington struck for four runs in the fourth, with Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy contributing run-scoring hits followed by a two-run single from Matt Wieters.
The Marlins had a sloppy game, especially in the early innings when they made mistakes on the bases and weren't in the proper defensive positions. Cutoff throws were missed.
"It was a frustrating game early," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who was ejected in the seventh. "I thought we really just made too many mistakes. Not being in the right spot on little stuff. Cut plays and things, we're in the wrong spot. Throwing the ball around when we didn't need to. We're not taking the outs we were given. That part was frustrating, early in the game.

"Honestly, we didn't deserve to win the game. We didn't play well enough to win. We give them extra outs. We just didn't do enough to win."
Harper's extended AB turns into tying double: Give Harper extra chances, the slugger will capitalize. He did so in the fourth, connecting on an RBI double to cap an eight-pitch showdown with Straily. The two-base hit knotted the score at 2.

The at-bat was extended when two foul balls dropped just out of reach of Miami defenders. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, shifted near second base, ventured a long way and was in foul territory on the third-base side.
"I had it," Hechavarria said in Spanish. "But when I took my eye off it, I lost it. I won't let it happen again."
The second foul was on the right-field side. Derek Dietrich, filling in at third base while Martin Prado is on the disabled list, was shifted on the right side, and he was in hot pursuit, along with right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. The ball dropped again foul.
"The thing with the shifts, you're playing in positions you're not really accustomed to playing," Dietrich said. "So just go as hard as you can for that ball."
Dietrich was also a bit out of position on Wieters' two-run single, which broke the game open.

Realmuto homers, rally fizzles: The Marlins had a big hit, but couldn't get a timely two-out one to rally in the eighth. J.T. Realmuto homered off Enny Romero to lead off the inning. Per Statcast™, the blast to left traveled a projected 376 feet, with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph and a launch angle of 21 degrees. Christian Yelich singled, and trailing by three, the Marlins threatened for more. But after Ozuna's two-out single off Joe Blanton, the Nationals countered with lefty Oliver Perez to face the left-handed-hitting Dietrich. Perez induced a grounder to second, preserving Washington's three-run lead.

Realmuto delivered an RBI single off Blake Treinen with two outs in the ninth, but Treinen struck out Yelich to end the game.

"Tanner's strong. He knows, he trains hard. I heard that when I first got here, that he trains as hard as anybody we have. Tanner is Tanner." -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker, on Roark
"It's very frustrating. That's not the way you want to present yourself to your new organization, your new team the first time out. I'll just be ready to go in five days." -- Straily, on his disappointing Marlins debut
Getting hit once in the game was uncomfortable for Dietrich. But when he was struck a second time -- by a Romero fastball -- Dietrich expressed his displeasure with the pitcher. From the dugout, Mattingly said something in the direction of home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa and he was ejected. But before heading to the clubhouse, Mattingly had a few more words for Kulpa near the plate. In his second season at the helm of the Marlins, Mattingly has now been ejected four times. Dietrich was also nailed by a pitch from Roark in the second inning.

"It's the second time in the game," Dietrich said. "I had enough there, having that ball inside like that. Three guys in there have been hit. Their starter, Roark, he hits a lot of guys too. We've got to take charge of that inner half. We will."
Roark also hit Dee Gordon in the second inning.
No stranger to being hit by pitches, Dietrich was struck a Marlins season-record 24 times in 2016. Since breaking into the big leagues in 2013, the infielder has been hit 56 times.
Marlins:Tom Koehler, who made a team-high 33 starts last year, takes to the hill for the first time on Thursday in the series finale. The right-hander is 4-8 with a 4.60 ERA in his career against the Nationals.
Nationals: Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez arrived at Spring Training with the goal of making the All-Star Game this season, and after a strong spring he makes his regular season debut in Wednesday's series finale against the Marlins at 4:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.