A few notes from a night to forget for the Nationals as they earned the distinction of being the 10,000 team to lose a major league game to the Braves franchise:
– Ross Detwiler slipped on the mound twice Friday night, and he came limping off after his final inning of work in relief of Livan Hernandez. While it looked concerning – especially since Nationals manager Davey Johnson had finally begun to get Detwiler on a starter’s schedule out of the bullpen the way he planned – both seemed unconcerned after the game. Johnson said Detwiler turned his ankle a little but he’d be fine and Detwiler echoed those sentiments. He struggled with Tim Hudon’s landing spot at first and slipped, necessitating a trainer’s visit, and then slipped a second time but didn’t think he’d suffer any ill-effects.
– Speaking of issues with the field… There were plenty of Nationals upset with the way the Turner Field infield played Friday night. The Nationals committed five errors, tying their season-high, but several of them were on hard hit balls that their infielders looked to have lined up. One went through Ryan Zimmerman’s legs, Michael Morse struggled with two and Ian Desmond one. The field played fast, but players felt it was also forcing unexpected hops.
“I don’t like to make excuses for anything like that, but yeah, the surface out there, it’s a little tough,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t like to talk about fields a lot, because people put in a lot of hard work to make that field and keep it able to play on. But it’s interesting right now, I guess you could say.
“I’ll be the first one to admit when I make an error, when I mess up. But to have a ball lined up and then have it go completely to the other side of your body between your lines, I mean, you’ve just got to get into defense mode and try to block everything. I don’t know if they’ve had trouble in the past. I’ve always remembered it being a good field. Maybe they’ve had something on it that we don’t know about, and they haven’t had time to kind of get it back. But when it comes down to it, we can’t make excuses. They have to play on the field, too. It is what it is.”
The last part of Zimmerman’s quote is important. The field plays the same for both teams and the Braves didn’t commit a single error. Whatever the issue, the Nationals still have to play two games here this series and one more series this season.
– It’s difficult to discern if the Nationals will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and GM Mike Rizzo has said several times that they’ll be both. But it’s hard not to think that this is a pivotal road trip for the Nationals where buying and selling is concerned. If they do well, they’ll be less inclined to sell off the pieces that brought them to a potentially above-.500 record.
They have several pieces that could be attractive to other teams but chances are the market for them won’t fully take shape until the deadline gets a bit closer.
That doesn’t mean the roster will be stagnant until a potential trade. When Jerry Hairston Jr. is ready to come off the disabled list – which could be as soon as Monday – the Nationals will have to make a roster move. Chad Gaudin’s rehab assignment also runs out on July 19 and the Nationals will need to make a decision on what to do with him. Gaudin is out of options so the Nationals would need to either activate him and put him on the active roster, attempt to pass him through waivers and accept assignment to the minor leagues or simply release him.