Adam LaRoche is praying for one thing and one thing only at his bedside table right now, and that is “Oh lord, will you please remove them from the disabled list?” A huge at-bat by LaRoche was not enough to propel the Nationals to a victory over the Dodgers this evening, as they dropped the opening game of this series with LA 3-2.
The loss made it the second time this season in which the Nationals have dropped consecutive games, the other being April 8-9 against the Cubs and the Mets (also both on the road) respectively. The Nats now sit at 14-6 through their first 20 games, boasting a sensational 70% winning percentage thus far.
For the Nationals LaRoche sent a 2-run shot out to right field in the sixth inning, helping the Nats to pull within 1 with only a few innings remaining, and, despite getting the loss, Ross Detwiler (2-1) pitched 6 solid innings recording 4 strikeouts.
But, the Nationals once again learned tonight that you have to get the offense going. It was Andre Ethier that taught the lesson this time, when he sent a 2-run homer to right in the bottom of the first, giving the Dodgers the 2-0 early lead. The pitch was one of the few mistakes that Detwiler made tonight, a hanging 1-0 curveball that should’ve never been thrown. The homer gave Ethier his 23rd and 24th RBIs on the year, and he leads the National League in that department, sitting 1 ahead of Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp, who also scored on the 1st-inning bomb.
Kemp got in on the action once again in the 4th inning, scoring what would be the game-winning run on a Juan Uribe infield single to Ian Desmond, and that was all the Dodgers would need. But it came down to the wire for sure…
The bottom of the 9th saw Danny Espinosa come to the plate after a Mark DeRosa fly out, but he wasn’t looking to just get on base. Espinosa hit a shot of his own that flirted with the right field foul pole, but was ruled foul. It appeared the ball would have hit the right side of the pole had a fan’s hand not gotten in the way, but unfortunately there was nothing Espinosa could do about it.
But the inning wasn’t over just yet. The inning’s never over when the name Chad Tracy is involved. Tracy came in to pinch-hit for left fielder Xavier Nady with 2 down, but he wouldn’t get a chance to perform his usual late-inning superhero routine. Tracy got absolutely drilled by Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen with an upper 90’s fastball right in the forearm, and was pulled from the game. Because the Nationals called up hitting phenom Bryce Harper today from AAA Syracuse, the team played with only 24 guys today, meaning there was one less bench bat available, and Edwin Jackson was forced to pinch-run for the injured Tracy so that final bench option Rick Ankiel could pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot if the inning got that far. However, Jansen would end up striking out Jesus Flores in the next at-bat, and the game would be over.
Though the Nationals have been in every game this year, injuries to offensive stars Michael Morse and now Ryan Zimmerman have really hurt the production of this lineup.
Champ of the Game: LaRoche brought the Nats back into this with his 6th-inning 2-run homer.
For the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw was absolutely untouchable on the mound.
Chump of the Game: Desmond, who went 0-4 with a strikeout in the leadoff spot.
For the Dodgers, shortstop Dee Gordon did the exact same thing, going 0-4 with a strikeout in the Dodgers’ leadoff spot.
Unsung Hero: LaRoche’s shot was probably the most memorable Nationals moment of the game, so Detwiler’s solid performance on the mound gets the nod here.
For the Dodgers, it’s Kemp, who scored 2 runs. Easy to overlook Kemp with the huge days by Kershaw and Ethier.