Nationals vs Padres 4/26/14 INSTANT ANALYSIS
In the first game at the new Nationals Park on Opening Day 2008, Ryan Zimmerman christened the new stadium with a walk off home run to give the Washington Nationals a 3-2 win. Now fast forward to April 26, 2014, the 500th regular season home game played at Nationals Park in which the Washington Nationals faithful would watch Tanner Roark pitch a complete game shutout, along with carrying a perfect game into the sixth inning. Back by early runs batted in from Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa in the first inning along with a Denard Span RBI single in the sixth, Tanner Roark was able to throw a career game and give the Washington Nationals their 14th win of the year.
Roark started the game with 16 batters retired in a row using only 54 pitches, which would go a long way in him finishing the game with a complete game. Relying heavily on his defense with pitching to the tune tune of 14 ground ball outs and 8 strike outs, which are both career highs for the 27 year old pitcher. With Roark threatening with the perfect game early in the sixth it was broken up the only way a perfect game could be, with a single up the middle for the San Diego Padres backup catcher Rene Rivera, who come into the game batting .173. Coming back from the perfect game attempt strong as ever, Roark would go onto finish the game allowing three hits and one walk while only throwing 108 pitches.
In a game where star player, Bryce Harper did not play in due to an injury to his left thumb, Kevin Frandsen made yet another start in left field and excelled at it. With only playing five games in left field in Frandsen’s entire career before joining the Washington Nationals this season it could be seen as questionable move by Nationals manager Matt Williams to play him instead of natural left field Nate Mclouth, but Frandsen makes the new Nationals skipper look smart when he goes into a full out sprint in the 5th inning to catch a foul ball that seemed almost out of reach and he ended up almost into the stands on the third base side.
Also contributing to Tanner Roarks shutout was the defense of Anthony Rendon, the second basemen for the team until a week ago when Ryan Zimmerman went down with an injury and Rendon was moved over to third base. Rendon would go on to make two spectacular plays at the hot corner including one where he robbed Will Venable of an early single in the first inning, a play that seems destined to be on Sport Centers top plays tonight. Adding to what was already a great day from Rendon he would go onto score the first run of game on his first single.The Nationals were also backed by the continued hot bats of Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond who both had multiple hit days and Desmond also contributed by stealing his first base of the year.
Tanner Roark to not be over shadowed by his excellent pitching performance contributed with his first hit of the season in the second inning. It was also the third game in the row in which the Washington Nationals would have double digit hits which has resulted in them taking a 2-1 series lead over the San Diego Padres.
With this 4-0 win Tanner Roark may have if not already solidified himself in that fifth rotation sport of the Nationals when Doug Fister returns off the DL, which seems to be coming in early May. With the bats getting hot and two great starts in a row the Nationals appear to be heading in the right direction to start the year and with Nationals slated to play the 7-17 Houston Astros on Tuesday April 29 it looks as if they can go on a winning streak that could propel them to the top of the division.