BAKER’S DOZEN

Roark, Na­tion­als bullpen give up 13 runs in blowout loss

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

Tan­ner Roark’s head be­gan to whip around in the top of the first in­ning. Four of the first five At­lanta Braves hit­ters reached base. Three scored. The Na­tion­als trailed, 3-0, one out into the game.

That, in it­self, would be a trou­bling tale. But this was not a sin­gu­lar night­mare. It re­peated through­out the day. At­lanta pum­meled the Na­tion­als, 13-2, Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at Na­tion­als Park. The loss dif­fused joy from Tues­day’s win, which snapped a four-game los­ing streak.

Wash­ing­ton has lost five of six. A four-game se­ries with the sec­ond-place New York Mets — now nine games be­hind the Na­tion­als head­ing into Wed­nes­day night — is on the hori­zon.

Wed­nes­day con­cluded a seven-game home­s­tand for the Na­tion­als. They came up with just two wins dur­ing the week, un­do­ing the work they had done on the road prior. Wash­ing­ton re­turned from a West Coast trip with a stout 7-2 record dur­ing the journey. One of those de­feats was a one-run loss against Los An­ge­les’ Clayton Ker­shaw. There was much to crow about.

How­ever, since they have been back, the Na­tion­als’ ever-last­ing bullpen prob­lem has resur­faced, ba­sic plays were muffed and there was no mesh be­tween the of­fense and pitch­ing. The only thing con­sis­tent through the home­s­tand was find­ing a way to lose to two sub­par teams. The Texas Rangers, who com­pleted a sweep of the Na­tion­als last week­end, are just

14-18 on the road de­spite win­ning three con­sec­u­tive games. At­lanta is spend­ing an­other sea­son be­ing knocked around by the league. It hoisted its record to just 29-36 af­ter win­ning two of three.

“We were play­ing so well on the West Coast, then we didn’t play well here at home, de­fen­sively, pitch­ing, hit the ball pretty good most days,” Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker said. “It was a tough home­s­tand. This is not the kind of home­s­tand you want to ex­hibit in front of your home fans.”

June has not been en­joy­able for Roark. He al­lowed seven earned runs in just five in­nings Wed­nes­day.

The Texas Rangers came up with 11 hits against him in six in­nings June 9. His ERA for the sea­son is up to 4.39. Video showed him hold­ing the ball too long prior to its re­lease.

“I know my­self pretty well and that was my main is­sue,” Roark said. “I was ob­vi­ously strug­gling to find some things.”

Trevor Gott and Blake Treinen fol­lowed Roark with in­ef­fec­tive stints of their own Wed­nes­day. Gott, called up Mon­day from Triple-A Syra­cuse to pro­vide an ex­tra bullpen pitcher, al­lowed five runs in 12⁄3 in­nings. Treinen con­tin­ues his tum­ble from Open­ing Day closer to un­trust­wor­thy. In 2⁄3 of an in­ning, he al­lowed two hits, one earned run, walked one and struck out one. His ERA is a trou­bling 6.51.

Be­fore the game, Baker said he thought a con­sis­tent closer would help smooth the bullpen’s woes.

“They’ve all strug­gled,” Baker said. “Which one would you pick out to re­place? I hear peo­ple in the stands, ‘Hey, Dusty! Take him out of there!’ OK. Who would you want me to put in there? Every­body in some point of time, has done the job, done well. I hon­estly feel that a bonafide closer would put every­body in a po­si­tion where they should be.

“Like [Matt] Al­bers. He got his first save af­ter 10 years. Ev­i­dently, if he was a closer, he would have been there be­fore now. All the other guys have -- we’re ask­ing some of these guys to do some­thing, not that they’re not ca­pa­ble of do­ing, but we don’t know and they don’t know what it’s like. That sixth and sev­enth is a lot dif­fer­ent than eighth and ninth.”

A lone bright light Wedne­day came from Na­tion­als out­fielder Brian Good­win, who hit his fourth home run and third in the last four games.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker walks off the field af­ter putting in re­lief pitcher Joe Blan­ton dur­ing the eighth in­ning of a 13-2 loss to the At­lanta Braves on Wed­nes­day. The Na­tion­als bullpen gave up six runs. “They’ve all strug­gled,” Baker said. “Which one would you pick out to re­place?”

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als start­ing pitcher Tan­ner Roark al­lowed seven earned runs in just five in­nings on Wed­nes­day. Four of the first five At­lanta Braves hit­ters in the game reached base.

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