May 21, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT
The Nationals and Reds were cruising through their game on Wednesday when the skies opened up with a torrential downpour in the top of the sixth inning.
Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark threw a few pitches while getting drenched before a challenge call by Reds’ manager Bryan Price stalled the game, and eventually helped lead to a rain delay. An hour and one minute later, the tarp came off the field and the Nationals’ defense trotted out.
While Roark and Reds’ starter Alfredo Simon had each thrown over 70 pitches apiece, both were brought back out to continue their starts. Roark was only used for 12 more pitches and only to get one more out, a quick second showing after such a long wait.
Manager Matt Williams explained the decision after the 2-1 loss.
“It all depends on how they feel,” Williams said. “He stayed loose and was able to go back out there. It’s one thing if he has to go a full inning or an inning-plus, but he’s got two outs in that inning.”
Roark said he continued throwing pitches in the indoor batting cage at Nationals Park. He would throw 10 to 15 pitches, sit down, and then 10 minutes later do it again.
“I felt good. We kept on playing catch downstairs in the batting cage,” Roark said. “I wanted to go back out there.”
Pitching coach Steve McCatty monitored Roark as he continued to pitch and the team felt he was good to go despite the delay. He allowed a single and a walk, but then got the third out on a Simon groundball.
Simon pitched not only the bottom half of the sixth, but the seventh inning as well. He threw a total of 21 pitches after the break and recorded six outs.
Both pitchers put together good starts, each allowing just one earned run. But an unearned run allowed Roark to take the loss as Simon recovered from a slow start to shut down the Nats.
Simon gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, leadoff hitter Denard Span, but settled in to dominate for the next six-plus frames.
“Any time you lead off the game with a home run, you think it’s going to be a good day for the offense,” Span said. “He did a hell of a job. He shut the door down and made good pitches. He’s a guy that used to be a closer and now is in the starting rotation. He’s tough.”
Span was also impressed with Roark, who took the first loss of his career in a game he pitched at home.
“He has [courage]. He goes out there and gives it his all, he gives us the opportunity to win every time he goes out there. You have to give him a lot of credit.”
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