NEW YORK (AP) — Tanner Roark recovered from a shaky first inning as an emergency starter in place of ailing Jordan Zimmermann, and the Washington Nationals rallied past the New York Mets 8-2 Thursday for an opening three-game sweep.
Ryan Zimmerman tied his career high with four hits, including three that led off innings. His second-inning home run started the Nationals’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit.
Washington’s leadoff batter reached in the first seven innings, and the Nationals rallied to win for the third time in the series. While Washington opened 3-0 for the second straight season, the Mets fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2005. They had not lost their first three home games since 1997.
Zimmermann, 19-9 last year, was fine Wednesday but developed a fever overnight and was throwing up. Roark, who had been scheduled to start Friday’s home opener against Atlanta, was told in the morning he’d be on the mound.
Roark (1-0) got just two swings and misses in the first two innings and fell behind in a 30-pitch first. He wound up allowing just the two runs and six hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts – including his final four batters.
Wheeler (0-1) threw a 97 mph fastball but never dominated, although he mostly pitched himself out of trouble. He gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, and the Nationals broke open the game with a four-run seventh against relievers Scott Rice and Jeurys Familia that included a two-run single by Adam LaRoche off the glove of first baseman Lucas Duda.
Before a small crowd of 20,561 Curtis Granderson doubled in a run in the opening inning for his first hit with the Mets following an 0-for-9 start that included five strikeouts. Juan Lagares’ sacrifice fly made in 2-0.
Washington went ahead 3-2 in the fifth when Denard Span hit an RBI single to right, advanced as Granderson heaved a two-hop throw home and scored on Jayson Werth’s two-out single.
NOTES: Washington pitchers struck out 39 in the series, third-most in any team’s opening three games since 1914, according to STATS. The only teams with more were Texas last year (43) and Cleveland in 1966 (42). … Mets 2B Daniel Murphy returned from paternity leave and had a throwing error and a fielding error in his season debut. … Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson presented the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience to the New York Mets, Walgreens and Monsignor John Brown, then bounced the ceremonial first pitch. … Werth was 6 for 13 in the series. … The Mets started a different first baseman in each game. … Travis d’Arnaud is 0 for 9 this season.