A 15-strikeout outing by Tanner Roark, a debut by Blake Snell that recalled something last done in the Bronx more than 50 years ago and a possible early end to Corey Kluber’s April woes were among the highlights of Saturday afternoon’s major league action.
Stats & Info reviews the most noteworthy performances on the mound.
Career high for Roark
Roark’s career high for strikeouts was 11, done in 2014 against the San Diego Padres. He matched that with the first batter of the fifth inning, getting catcher Kurt Suzuki swinging, and he exceeded it when he got the next batter, pitcher Phil Hughes, looking.
Roark lasted seven innings. The 15 strikeouts are the most by a Nationals pitcher since Max Scherzer struck out 17 in his no-hitter against the New York Mets last October. Roark is the first in Nationals’ franchise history to strike out 15 or more batters in fewer than nine innings.
Six of Roark’s strikeouts came on soft stuff (changeups, curveballs and sliders), two more than his previous high for a start. The nine strikeouts on his fastball matched his career high.
Roark fell behind 1-0 to 11 batters. Those batters were 0-for-10 with nine strikeouts and a walk.
He got a career-high seven strikeouts on pitches out of the strike zone.
Of the games Roark has faced at least five batters the past two seasons, Saturday’s produced his lowest swing percentage (38 percent) and his highest called-strike percentage (43 percent).
Roark threw 121 pitches – the most he has thrown in his four-year major league career.
Snell strong in debut
Snell allowed one earned run, two hits and a walk and struck out six in five innings against the Yankees, leaving with the Rays leading 2-1.
The last visiting pitcher to throw five or more innings and strike out at least six in a major league debut against the Yankees was Luis Tiant on July 19, 1964.
The Rays promoted Snell, 23, on Friday. He was named the 2015 minor league player of the year by Baseball America and USA Today and entered this season as the 14th-ranked prospect in baseball, according to Keith Law.
Snell’s 1.41 ERA last season was the lowest by a full-season minor-league pitcher since Justin Verlander’s 1.29 in 2005.
Former Cy Young winner finds old form
Entering the game, Kluber was 0-6 with a 4.92 ERA in April of the past two seasons combined. In that span, he had two games with six or more earned runs allowed in April and two such games in all months after April.
On Saturday, he allowed one earned run and two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings (with no walks).
Much as Kluber reversed his trend of struggling in April, he finally got the upper hand on the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, keeping him hitless in three at-bats.
Kluber had started against the Tigers 12 times with Cabrera in the lineup and had never held him hitless. Cabrera had been 20-for-35 with seven extra-base hits against Kluber, including 12 hits (four for extra bases) in his previous 17 at-bats.