Tanner Roark strikes out 15 in Washington Nationals wins

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark got into trouble, putting two runners on base early in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

Then he got angry.

That anger helped fuel a record-setting performance by Roark in which he fanned 15 batters and the Nationals pitching staff beat a team record with 18 strikeouts in a 9-inning game.

“You got to stay focused up here,” said Roark, who came into the game with a 1-2 record.” In the first inning I thought I was being too fine and I was trying to hit the spot and not throwing to it. “I’ve done it two times this year, so far, I was just trying to be too fine.”

So Roark reached back and hurled about 150 more pitches, most of those challenging the hitters and winning.

“It’s really just a mental thing,” said Roark. “You have to know you have the stuff– you just have to go out there and make some pitches.”

Roark said he was surprised, but grateful that manager Dusty Baker sent him out in the 7th inning despite a high pitch count.

Baker said Roark’s determination to get through a rocky first inning and then power through a big workload because of the strikeouts helped him make that decision.

“He had good control, he had his sinker working and his comeback inside fastball working today,” said Baker.

Roark was helped by a single in the bottom half of the first by Ryan Zimmerman that plated the only two runs of the game.

With the win the Nationals improve to 13-4 on the year. They play the Twins again on Sunday afternoon.