The Nationals attacked the Dodgers on Saturday with the same lineup they used on Friday in their first game back from the All-Star break: one that didn’t include first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Nats manager Davey Johnson said before the game that LaRoche is still bothered by a flu bug. With a quick turnaround before Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. series finale and one of the best left-handers going on the mound for the Dodgers in Clayton Kershaw, don’t look for LaRoche to play in that game either.
With Tyler Moore and Chris Marrero in the minor leagues, no LaRoche leaves the Nats thin on options at first. That explains why Chad Tracy with his .149 batting average is getting another start. Recently acquired Scott Hairston is an outfielder and Johnson said there are no plans to have him give first a try. Johnson did say he’d told utilityman Steve Lombardozzi to borrow someone’s first baseman’s mitt. He may have been kidding, but maybe not. The way Tracy is hitting, Lombardozzi at first may be worth a try.
Tracy’s woes aren’t really just a this season thing. Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com did some stat crunching. Since May 17 of last year, Tracy is hitting .187 with seven doubles, three home runs and nine RBI. All three homers and six of the RBI have come this season. In fairness, Tracy spent time on the disabled list last season after groin muscle surgery. But still, it isn’t exactly eye-popping production.
Lombardozzi is only hitting .238 with no home runs and 14 RBI. But that’s a good bit better than .149 with six RBI.
UPDATE: Because we’re fair like that, let’s note that Tracy had a double and a single in his first two at-bats Saturday night. The two hits were as many as he had in the month of June, former Times intern Tom Schad noted via Twitter.
Left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler, on the disabled list with a back injury, threw a bullpen session Saturday. Johnson was not encouraged, seeing nothing to change his mind that Detwiler is still a ways away from returning. Look for rookie Taylor Jordan to continue in the rotation, taking Detwiler’s turn Tuesday against Pittsburgh and for the foreseeable future. The Nats have a doubleheader against the Mets on Friday and Detwiler doesn’t figure to be available for one of those games, either.
Apropos of nothing, Saturday is the 25th birthday of Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg. They grow up so quickly, don’t they?
Without further delay, here are Saturday night’s lineups as Nats left-hander Gio Gonzalez faces off against Dodgers right Zack Greinke. Gonzalez is 7-3 with a 3.03 earned run average. Greinke is 8-2, 3.39. Both have winning streaks going. Gonzalez is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his past four starts. Greinke is 5-0, 2.50 in his past five.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, CF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Tim Federowicz, C
Zack Greinke, P
Denard Span, CF
Anthony Rendon, 2B
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Bryce Harper, LF
Jayson Werth, RF
Ian Desmond, SS
Chad Tracy, 1B
Wilson Ramos, C
Gio Gonzalez, P