WASHINGTON -- Perhaps no two teams have endured the number of injuries as the Nationals and Dodgers have this season. They have each lost significant players to the disabled list, and they are trying to hang on to their lofty preseason aspirations. Even during this three-game series, in which the
WASHINGTON -- Perhaps no two teams have endured the number of injuries as the Nationals and Dodgers have this season. They have each lost significant players to the disabled list, and they are trying to hang on to their lofty preseason aspirations. Even during this three-game series, in which the Dodgers swept, both endured losses.
Washington lost veteran utility man Howie Kendrick for the season to an Achilles injury and right-hander Ryan Madson to the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle. Meanwhile, Los Angeles had two starting pitchers leave the game prematurely in Rich Hill on Saturday night and Alex Wood on Sunday afternoon. Yet the Dodgers came to Washington and swept the Nationals, concluding with a 7-2 loss in the finale in front of a sellout crowd of 40,201, which followed a familiar formula.
The Nationals leaned on a strong outing from their starting pitcher, this time right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who yielded three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He fanned seven and walked four. Washington struck on offense with Trea Turner's two-run home run in the third inning, but it was unable to push across more.
"Just haven't played that well, at least, offensively," Turner said. "Pitching staff's done a pretty good job for us, kept us in the ballgames. At the end, we can't seem to get over the hump the last few days, but [we need to] get rolling, get back in the swing of things and be good."
Strasburg surrendered a pair of home runs -- a solo dinger to Yasmani Grandal in the second and a two-run homer to Enrique Hernandez in the fifth -- as his only blemishes. But once again, the Nationals asked their starter to extend his pitch count as Strasburg needed 115 pitches before he was removed.
"It's tough having a long layoff when you weren't really expecting it," Strasburg said. "I gave it everything I had. It just wasn't good enough today."
Considering the extra off-days created by this week's postponements, the staff is comfortable throwing a bit extra. However, it has become a trend for a rotation that has been the most consistent part of the team.
The larger issue comes from the Nats' bullpen, which lacks depth beyond its most reliable relievers, who have also been overworked lately. With Madson unavailable to pitch the eighth inning, the Nats turned to Wander Suero to pitch the eighth, and he surrendered a two-run homer to Yasiel Puig. And in the ninth, Shawn Kelley gave up another pair of runs, extending the Dodgers' lead to five and putting the game out of reach.
"It's really difficult. You put the guys in that you think are going to get the job done," manager Dave Martinez said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
Now that Madson has been sidelined, the Nats are going to have to figure out how to navigate around another injury.
"It's unfortunate. I think you can sit here and feel sorry for yourself, but I know the other team's not doing that," Strasburg said. "So we still have to go out there and compete with whoever's out there and just be patient. The guys are going to get back as soon as possible, but we also want them to be right when they get back, so we're just going to hold the helm through this storm and we'll be OK."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Anthony Rendon represented the tying run in the eighth inning after a single from Turner and a walk to Bryce Harper. Facing Dodgers right-hander Josh Fields, Rendon lined a sharp grounder up the middle, but it hit Fields and ricocheted right to the first baseman Player Page for Max Muncy, who stepped on first base to end the inning.
Nationals No. 2 prospect Juan Soto made his Major League debut on Sunday, becoming the youngest player in the Majors at age 19. He pinch-hit for Adrian Sanchez in the eighth inning and struck out, but he received an ovation from the crowd at Nationals Park.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, it stinks. Especially when you go through it, you feel bad for those guys. I think that's one thing that we would all agree upon, that if everybody could just be healthy all year, that be a great thing. But injuries are a part of the game. Hopefully they are minor ones, not major ones. It seems to keep happening to us. For me, it's not about that winning or losing -- it stinks for those guys that want to be out there and want to play. Everybody takes their job seriously and has fun with it. Having those guys go down here, it stinks for them." -- Turner, on the Nats' injuries
The Nationals begin a three-game series against the Padres at Nationals Park on Monday, which could also be the first start of Soto's Major League career. Soto was promoted on Sunday afternoon to be the starting left fielder in Washington, so even though San Diego will start left-hander Robbie Erlin, the left-handed-hitting Soto could find himself in the lineup. The Nats will have a lefty of their own on the mound in Giovany Gonzalez. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.