Before Tanner Roark's May 21st start against the Cincinnati Reds in the nation's capital, the 27-year-old, second-year major leaguer was (5-0) in 10 games and four starts in Nationals Park in his major league career with a 0.68 ERA, a 2.34 FIP, 11 walks (2.48 BB/9) and 31 Ks (6.98 K/9) in 40 IP, over which he'd held visitors to Washington, D.C. to a stingy .169/.230/.199 line.
After Sunday's loss to the Texas Rangers, Roark is now (5-3) in 13 games and seven starts in Nationals Park in his career, with a 1.20 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 17 walks (2.55 BB/9) and 41 Ks (6.15 K/9) in 60 IP over which opposing hitters have a .195/.259/.262 line.
Roark received just three runs of support in those three starts, of course, with the Nationals dropping 2-1, 3-2 and 2-0 decisions in losses to the Reds, Marlins and Rangers.
The Nats' lack of offense in those starts has left little room for error.
In the loss to the Reds, two RBI singles in the fourth inning were enough to lift Cincinnati to victory.
A missed catch by Jayson Werth on a playable ball in right that led to the Marlins' first run and a two-run Giancarlo Stanton home run on a hanging bender from Roark were enough for Miami in their 3-2 win.
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"The first inning," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss to the Marlins, "Stanton hit a double -- Jayson almost caught that ball -- but ended up getting a double and then the single to drive in the first one and just the hanging breaking ball to Stanton again. That's the difference in the game."
A solo home run by Rangers' outfielder Leonys Martin in the top of the seventh broke a scoreless tie and provided all the offense Texas needed to back up a dominant outing on the mound by Yu Darvish in yesterday's 2-0 win.
Roark left an 0-1 change up for the outfielder, who lined a home run to right that cleared the fence to make it 1-0.
The Rangers added a run in the eighth, but the Martin HR was enough to help Texas avoid getting swept in the nation's capital.
Roark hoped his teammates would be able to pick him up, but Darvish wasn't giving up anything on Sunday.
"It's only one run and we have, how many games have we come from behind and won them?" Roark asked rhetorically after his third straight loss in D.C.
"So it was one run and I wasn't really worried about it. I knew our team could come back and get some more."
"He made one mistake to Martin," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said, "a little changeup that was up in the strike zone, but other than that he matched [Darvish] perfectly and made pitches when he had to as well. He just made one mistake and hung a changeup. I think he pitched pretty well though."
"It was just a bad pitch and it got hit," Roark said.
The Rangers put runners on early and threatened to score before Martin's home run, but until that hit Roark managed to go toe-to-toe with Darvish.
"I just think he found it a little bit," Williams told reporters. "He was missing early with the fastball, but found it and everything else works off of that, so he was able to go deeper into the game."
In spite of the fact that he's been on the losing end in each of his last three outings, Williams said Roark's continued to prove that he's a quality major league starter.
"I think over the last year-ish, he's showed us that he can throw strikes and he competes and he can do a lot of things on the diamond," the first-year manager said. "He handles the bat well, fields his position well, so all of those things combined show us that he's a rotation guy. Three pitches really for strikes. An occasional slider, an occasional curveball, but fastball/changeup to both sides and today he was a little bit off, a little command, but he made them when he had to make them. Pitched well."
Against Yu Darvish, it wasn't enough.