It’s been a rare day this season that the Washington Nationals have been able to field a fully functional, Opening Day lineup. After Wednesday night, the chances of that happening again any time soon dropped dramatically.
The Nationals lost both members of their battery, Ross Detwiler and Wilson Ramos, to injuries before the game was halfway finished and couldn’t get anything going against the Dodgers and Zack Greinke, who did enough to pick up a 3-1 win over Washington to earn bragging rights in the three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
While much of the national media attention will be on Greinke (2-0), making his return from a broken collarbone suffered in an on-field brawl in April, Nationals fans will be more concerned with the health of the two newest members of Washington’s battle-bruised battalion.
Detwiler (2-4) went down first. The lefty had given up single runs to the Dodgers in each of the first two innings, and each came with two outs. Adrian Gonzalez drove in the first run of the game in the first inning with a soft single to center that plated Matt Kemp from second base. One inning later, Detwiler watched as Greinke poked a single to right with Andre Ethier on third, doubling the L.A. advantage.
The problem came in the third, as Detwiler scampered over to cover first on a potential 3-6-1 double play. Ian Desmond‘s throw was slightly behind Detwiler, who stretched to reach it but appeared to tweak something. He stayed in the game to finish the inning, but gave way to Craig Stammen in the fourth inning. After the game, Detwiler revealed he had suffered back spasms and was hopeful, although not 100 percent confident, that he would be able to make his next start.
Ramos’s condition appears to be more severe. While running to first on his second hit of the game, the catcher pulled up lame, leaving the game immediately and being replaced by Kurt Suzuki. Ramos has already spent time on the disabled list this season with hamstring issues, and Nats manager Davey Johnson said postgame that the hamstring struck again, likely meaning a return trip to the DL for Ramos and a call-up for Jhonatan Solano.
As for the rest of the game, it was not the breakout offensive affair Nationals fans have been hoping for. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite.
Still missing Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper, the lineup once again scuffled, with the exception of Adam LaRoche, who accounted for the Nationals’ only run with a solo homer to center in the fourth inning that extended his hitting streak to 12 games. The Nationals entered the day’s games ahead of only Miami in team OPS, and finished the three games in L.A. with a paltry .125 batting average (3-for-24) with runners in scoring position.
The best chance for the Nats to bust out came in the eighth against Kenley Jansen. Steve Lombardozzi singled to lead off the inning and was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Eury Perez. Ryan Zimmerman then followed with a single to left that advanced Perez to third with no outs. But the Nationals could not capitalize, as Adam LaRoche popped out to shallow left and Ian Desmond went down swinging. With two outs, Suzuki finally hit the fly ball Washington needed, but it came too late. Brandon League worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to record his ninth save of the season for the Dodgers, retiring a pinch-hitting Harper along the way.
The Nationals will look to welcome Harper back to the lineup on Thursday night at 10:10 PM Eastern in San Diego, while Werth is scheduled to be back in time for Saturday’s game. The opener of a four-game set at Petco Park sees Washington’s Stephen Strasburg (1-5, 3.10 ERA) pitching in his hometown for the first time as a pro. He will square off with the Padres’ Edinson Volquez (3-3, 5.15).