Sep 12, 2013, 5:03 PM EDT
Game in a nutshell: With a chance to go for the kill and sweep the four-game series, the Nationals left little to chance. Tanner Roark tossed six more quality innings, overcoming a 54-minute rain delay after the first inning. And the Nats’ power bats showed up once again, launching three more homers, with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos leading the charge. Then, just to make sure, the Nationals tacked on four late insurance runs, with Anthony Rendon adding a homer of his own in the top of the ninth. Thus the Nationals completed a four-game sweep, won their sixth straight game and their 23rd in their last 32. With the Reds off today, they moved to within 5 1/2 games for the final NL Wild Card berth, with 16 left on the schedule.
Hitting highlight: Though they moved the fences in prior to the 2012 season, Citi Field still has never been known as a great hitter’s ballpark. The Nationals, though, did their best to disprove that over the last four days. They wound up launching 13 home runs, shattering the previous mark for any series in this stadium, which had stood at 7. The man providing more damage than anyone else, of course, was Zimmerman, who clubbed three homers, extending his torrid power run at the plate. Zim now has hit six homers in his last six games, eight in his last 10 games. All of a sudden, he’s tied with Jayson Werth for the team lead with 23 homers and has taken the team lead with 72 RBI.
Pitching highlight: Every time you think Roark has shown everything he has to show, he impresses you again. Given a chance to make his second career start, the rookie right-hander rose to the challenge. He gave up a quick run in the bottom of the first, then sat through a 56-minute rain delay before taking the mound again. The layoff didn’t appear to bother Roark at all, because he immediately retired six of the next seven batters he faced. And he finished strong, retiring six straight before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter after six innings and 78 pitches. Roark has now made 11 big-league appearances (the last two starts). He sports a 6-0 record, 1.30 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Key stat: Denard Span’s eighth-inning double to right-center extended his career-high hitting streak to 23 games. That’s the second-longest streak in Nationals history, behind only Ryan Zimmerman’s 30-gamer in 2009.
Up next: Having concluded this 3-city road trip with an 8-2 record, the Nationals return to the District for their final homestand of the season, a 10-game stretch against the Phillies, Braves and Marlins. It begins at 7:05 p.m. Friday when Stephen Strasburg gets the ball against Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick.
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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