February 19, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 45 Review: Nats 2, Cubs 1

NATIONALS EKE OUT 2-1 WIN AGAINST CUBS ON THE LONG BALL

The Washington Nationals turned to their number six starter Tanner Roark for his first start of the season Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Wilson Ramos and Denard Span each had home runs, and kept the Nats in it against a parsimonious Cubs staff as the Nats won 2-1. Kris Bryant homered off Roark for the Cubs’ only run.

The best part of having a pitching staff as talented as the Nationals is being able to go to your long man for a spot start and have it come out as well as it did Monday. Tanner Roark made his first start of the year at Wrigley today, going five innings and striking out three.

Denard Span got the game off to a spectacular start with a leadoff home run off Tsuyoshi Wada. The ball landed in a pile of construction materials past the right field fence for Span’s fourth of the year. Rookie phenom, and high school teammate of Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant fired back with a solo shot in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

Wada and Roark traded zeroes for six innings, each stranding runners for the opposition. The Nats left behind five runners, while the Cubs left a pair. Stellar defense from Bryce Harper and Michael A. Taylor gave the Nats the edge over the Cubs, but they couldn’t capitalize on a couple of nice opportunities against Wada to open a lead.

Justin Grimm came on in the sixth against the Nats’ bats with one out. Facing Wilson Ramos with two outs, Grimm left a 95-mph just in the bottom edge of the strikezone, and Ramos belted it into the right field bleachers. There were no Cubs fans to throw it back, though.

After Roark’s five strong innings, Blake Treinen got the call from Matt Williams in relief. He went two scoreless innings against the Cubs, surrendering a pair of hits and striking out three. Matt Thornton started the eighth inning for the Nats to face situational hitter Miguel Montero. Aaron Barrett came on to face Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler and retired both in order.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth for the Nationals, and it was more excitement than the closer was looking for in places. With a full count to Kris Bryant, Storen threw a strike in on the hands of the young infielder. Bryant checked his swing, and got brushed by the pitch. The initial call was a foul ball, tipped into the mitt for a strikeout, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon invoked his challenge, and the umpires overturned the call and sent Bryant to first.

With the tying run on, Storen buckled down, and managed to get Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to pop out harmlessly. With two outs, Storen went up in the zone to get Jorge Soler to strikeout to end the game. The Nationals improved to 27-18 (.600) and have now won 14 of their last 17 games.

HERO: Wilson Ramos, for his go-ahead blast in the sixth.

GOAT: No goats today! Here’s a goat going down a slide.

NATS NOTES:

  • Span, Harper and Taylor all had highlight-reel catches today against the Cubs.
  • Roark’s win is his first of the year.
  • Drew Storen is now 15 of 16 in save opportunities on the year.

NEXT UP: A rematch with the Cubs on Tuesday night at 7:05pm, Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.52) vs. Kyle Hendricks (1-4, 4.14).

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

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