Roark’s trou­bles on mound con­tinue in 6-2 loss to Reds

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als pitcher Tan­ner Roark had five days to men­tally flush away any lin­ger­ing doubt from his last two starts — giv­ing up six runs to the Mi­ami Marlins on June 19 and seven runs to the Atlanta Braves on June 14.

Roark’s strug­gles were am­pli­fied when New York Mets an­a­lyst Keith Her­nan­dez was caught last week on a hot mic say­ing the pitcher was “get­ting his tits lit” lately.

From just his sec­ond pitch in the Na­tion­als’ 6-2 loss Sun­day to the Cincinnati Reds, it was ap­par­ent Roark’s trou­bles on the mound weren’t go­ing away any­time soon.

A two-seam fast­ball on the in­side of the plate to Reds lead off hit­ter Billy Hamil­ton led to a dou­ble and spi­raled into a five earned-run in­ning for Roark.

Roark (6-5, 5.15 ERA) got out of the first af­ter a 40-pitch in­ning and fol­lowed up in the sec­ond by giv­ing up a home run to Reds sec­ond base­man Scooter Gen­nett.

But un­like his 22⁄3 in­nings against the Marlins, which was the short­est start of his ca­reer, Roark was al­lowed to work through the dam­age. If Roark is go­ing to clear the hur­dles in front of him, it was best for him to work through it.

Man­ager Dusty Baker pulled Roark af­ter the sixth in­ning. The 30-year-old pitcher spent the in­nings af­ter the sec­ond try­ing to find his rhythm and didn’t give up a run. Roark fin­ished with 116 pitches, al­low­ing nine hits and strik­ing out seven.

“I felt like I was mak­ing my pitches,” Roark said. “Some­times stuff like that hap­pens. You can’t get over­whelmed or mad about it. Just tip your cap and keep go­ing out there. I was happy to stay out there as long as I did and fin­ish the game.”

There’s no easy an­swer as to why Roark, who had just a 2.83 ERA and was fifth in the Na­tional League in wins last year, en­tered Sun­day’s game with a 8.02 ERA in June.

Per­haps more trou­bling for the Na­tion­als, there’s no easy so­lu­tion other than to let Roark fix it on the field.

Roark has been try­ing to slow his throw­ing mo­tion on the

mound to bet­ter main­tain con­trol and com­mand of his pitches. And de­spite the rocky start, he said he felt like all four pitches were work­ing against the Reds.

“I think in the windup I was a lot slower and not try­ing to throw the ball too quickly,” Roark said. “Cause when that hap­pens, your arm and legs are be­hind and ev­ery­thing’s el­e­vated. I’ll build off this one and keep chug­ging along.”

Baker said Roark pitched “bet­ter than the score in­di­cated.” But the Reds were still able to take ad­van­tage.

“When you don’t have your pin­point con­trol, his come­back fast­ball, es­pe­cially against left­ies on the in­side, the slider away, it’s frus­trat­ing for him and frus­trat­ing for us, more for him, be­cause how close he is get­ting his stuff to­gether, es­pe­cially when you have two strikes,” Baker said.

Of­fen­sively, the Na­tion­als had a quiet out­ing a day af­ter scor­ing 18 in Satur­day’s win against the Reds. Cen­ter­fielder Michael A. Tay­lor hit a two-shot blast in the fourth off Reds start­ing pitcher Scott Feld­man.

It was Tay­lor’s 11th homer of the year. “We fought the whole time,” Tay­lor said. “We did have some chances. You’re not go­ing to cash in every run you have on base. He’s mak­ing good pitches. He threw a good ball game to­day. I think we fought all the way to the end. That’s all you can ask for.”

Baker elected to rest first base­man Ryan Zim­mer­man and catcher Matt Wi­eters be­fore the game, al­though Zim­mer­man made an ap­pear­ance in the ninth on a dou­ble switch.

The Na­tion­als (45-30) will now face the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Chicago Cubs in a four-game home­s­tand that starts Mon­day at 7:05 p.m.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als pitcher Tan­ner Roark gave up five runs in the first in­ning against the Cincinnati Reds on Sun­day. He was re­lieved in the sixth in­ning.

The Na­tion­als’ Brian Good­win is tagged out at home plate by Reds catcher Tucker Barn­hart in the fifth in­ning of a 6-2 loss.

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