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Stupid WBC: Tanner Roark’s up-and-down 2017 campaign continues in loss to Braves

Tanner Roark has been inconsistent this season, but he told reporters after Wednesday’s rough start that he identified a mechanical issue...

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Roark put together a streak of three straight wins between May 24th and June 4th, snapping a four-start winless streak which stretched back three weeks to May 2nd.

In those three wins, Roark put up a 2.08 ERA, two walks, 18 Ks and a .235/.262/.333 line against in three starts 21 23 innings pitched.

Talking about Roark’s inconsistency early this season, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, in an interview with 106.7 the FAN’s The Sports Junkies last month, chalked at least some of it up to the right-hander’s participation in the World Baseball Classic and how that affected his preparation this Spring.

“He was a WBC guy,” Rizzo explained. “Those guys were revving at 100% on March 7th, I think. He’s about a month ahead of everybody else. He may have come into a little dead arm scenario at this point in the season where others may not have just because he did start earlier.”

Roark’s late-May-early June unbeaten streak ended after three starts, however.

He gave up 11 hits, two of them home runs, two walks and five runs total, two earned, in six-plus innings in a 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers last weekend.

Dusty Baker sent the right-hander back out for the seventh inning against the Rangers, hoping to spare his bullpen of extra work, but a leadoff homer by Rougned Odor ended Roark’s outing.

“He gave up a lot of hits, but very few runs,” Baker said after the loss, trying to stress the positives.

Roark too was looking for silver linings after a less-than-stellar start.

“You always got to take a positive out of everything that you do,” he explained, “or else the negatives are going to eat you alive.

“So, it felt like the two-seamer was working well. There were base hits and not a lot of hard contact, so, I’m fine with that, but it’s a hit, and two home runs, and we ended up losing, 5-2, so just take the positive out of weak-hit balls.”

He couldn’t take solace in weak contact after he gave up nine hits, one a homer, two walks, and seven runs in five innings of work on Wednesday afternoon in the nation’s capital, in what ended up a 13-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Roark gave up three straight hits to start the game, four hits total, and three runs in the first. Back-to-back singles, and an error on a snap throw to first by Jose Lobaton that Ryan Zimmerman didn’t see coming, got the Braves another run, and walk and home run followed to put the Braves up 6-2 in the third.

Two more singles and a walk loaded the bases with no one out in the fifth, and a sac fly made it 7-2 Braves.

That was it for Roark, who told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that he’d looked at some film and thought it was mainly a mechanical issue he thought he could fix.

“Extending, getting closer to the plate, really,” he said. “I think that’s my main issue. I looked at some video, and it just so happened to be that it was a little thing like that. And most of the time, baseball plays tricks on you, and that was the little thing.”

“He wasn’t sharp,” Baker said, when asked about Roark’s struggles, “... and his location, which is usually the problem when you get hit around pretty good, plus there were a lot of balls that were just out of reach.

“I don’t know if we were just half a step slow, or if it was just not our day as far as placement is concerned.”

The loss to the Braves wrapped up a 2-5 homestand for the Nationals, who went 7-2 on their nine-game road trip to San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, then struggled to keep things going back at home.

“We were playing so well on the West Coast,” Baker said, “then we came home and we didn’t play well here at home, defensively, pitching — hit the ball pretty well most days, but it was a tough homestand.”

Up next, a four-game stay in Citi Field, where the Nationals take on the New York Mets.

On the road this season, the Nationals are 21-12 so far, and 3-0 in New York, after they swept the first series in the Mets’ home this season. The Mets are 16-20 in Citi Field...