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|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, September 14, 2017
Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia Attendance: 25,192
Nats' Roark looks to keep momentum against Braves
WASHINGTON -- The National League East title was clinched on Sunday, but Washington Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark said that is no reason to change his approach.
The right-hander will make his 28th start and 29th appearance of the year on Thursday when he faces right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who will also make his 28th start in his 29th game of the year. Both pitchers are natives of Illinois.
Roark (12-9, 4.48 ERA), who had a 2.83 ERA in 34 games (33 starts) last year, has gotten better each of the past three months.
He had an 8.31 ERA in June but then posted a mark of 3.52 in July and 3.48 in August. Roark has a 2.77 ERA in two September starts. He allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts against the Philadelphia Phillies at home in his previous outing Sept. 7.
"You can't take days off. You have to come prepared to go out there and win for the team and help the team out," Roark said. "Yes, we clinched already, but every start counts. You have to be prepared for the playoffs. You try to maintain your health, your body and stay fresh and stay mentally sharp."
Roark is 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 17 career games, including 11 starts, against the Braves. He has not beaten them in two games (one start) this year but was 2-0 against them in 2016.
"It is a tough lineup. You can't take anyone lightly," Roark said. "You have to keep attack mode on."
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is 6-for-19 (.316) with three homers against Roark, and outfielder Matt Kemp is 5-for-15 (.333) with two homers. First baseman Freddie Freeman is 11-for-33 (.333) against Roark but has not gone deep. Kemp hit a grand slam Wednesday, the seventh of his career.
The Braves (67-78) beat the Marlins on a walk-off homer Sunday by Lane Adams and that gave Washington (88-57) the title. The Nationals, who have won four division titles since 2012, then had Monday off before losing to Atlanta 8-0 on Tuesday and 8-2 on Wednesday.
Foltynewicz (10-12, 4.74 ERA) also believes there is no reason to change his approach now that the Nationals have clinched.
"We will take it like any other start, especially with this young group," he said. "Spots are going to be fought for next year. You want to finish on a strong note. I want to have a strong end of the year like I did last year a little bit. We want to finish strong (as a team) like we did last year."
Foltynewicz is 2-0 this year against Washington. In his career, he is 2-1 with a 5.46 ERA in five games vs. the Nationals, all starts.
He broke into the majors with 16 games out of the bullpen with the Braves in 2014. Foltynewicz pitched in 18 games (15 starts) in 2015 and then made 22 starts last year for Atlanta.
"Get that first really full year under my belt with 30 starts," he said. "In past years, I was in the bullpen and haven't really got to experience a full season of starting 30 games. I want to keep the team in the game when I don't have my best stuff."
With two more wins, Washington manager Dusty Baker would post a 10th 90-victory season. Only 11 managers have done that, and all of them are in the Hall of Fame.
Updated September 14, 2017