Washington D.C., June 19 (CNA) Washington Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang posted his season's worst performance Tuesday as his team fell at home to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4, recording its fourth consecutive loss.
The Taiwanese right-hander, who returned to rotation from a spring training injury after being included by manager Davey Johnson in May, suffered his third loss of the season after giving up five earned runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings with three walks, his shortest outing so far this season.
Wang yielded one run in the first frame on three singles. With the Nats leading 2-1 into the third inning, Wang, however, threw several trademark sinkers slower than 90 miles per hour that resulted in the disastrous frame.
Carlos Pena first hit a two-run homer off him. Elliot Johnson added two more runs with a two-out triple and Johnson came up to the mound. Ross Detwiler replaced the 31-year-old starter in the fourth and pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings.
Wang's ERA rose to 6.10 after four starts and one relief.
"I feel OK in the bullpen," Wang said through translator John Hsu. "But I just don't feel that well when I go out there."
"It's kind of frustrating for me right now. I was trying to locate my ball today, and it wasn't working."
After the top-ranked Nats' fourth loss in a row, many began to question Johnson's decision to pull the better-performing Detwiler, who substituted for Wang during his rehabilitation, off the rotation when Wang returned to the major league.
However, the manager revealed the rotation would not change immediately and after five or six starts, he could better learn about the veteran's condition.
"I know how good he can be," Johnson said, admitting he will discuss his options with pitching coach Steve McCatty, as well as Wang, before moving forward. "My job is to try to get everybody doing the things they're capable of doing. That's my job."
"If I thought he could get better out of the bullpen or starting, that would come into the decision. I'm not going to make a decision right after a rough outing."
Johnson added Wang has worked really hard toward returning to his previous form, and has made progress. In response, Wang said he will try his best to prepare himself in the bullpen and hopes he will not disappoint the manager.
The former New York Yankees ace, who notched up 19 wins in 2006-2007, was quoted as saying by the United Daily News that command is his biggest problem now and he would have to improve.
Wang, wearing a new haircut, did not look discouraged after the game, saying: "I must trust that I can pitch as well as before."
(By Lin Hung-han, Tony Liao and Kendra Lin)