DETROIT — The Washington Nationals’ 11-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers brought to a close a putrid July in which the Nationals went 11-16.
The frustration inside the Nationals’ clubhouse was obvious, and we’ll get to that via the quotes that came out of there.
But first, a few notes:
– Ross Ohlendorf threw 11 pitches on Wednesday and not one of them was harder than 86 mph. For a guy who hit 97 on the radar gun just last homestand, that was extremely concerning for the Nationals. Ohlendorf, who threw 114 pitches five days ago in a start against the Mets, was summoned to relieve Gio Gonzalez but he faced just two batters before he came off with Nationals head trainer Lee Kuntz.
Ohlendorf said he was just feeling a little stiff and not fully recovered from his start. He has dealt with injuries before, and he did not seem to feel that he was hurt. He said if he’d rested until the Nationals’ next game, he’d likely have been in his usual velocity range.
“He was a little sore coming out of his last start and didn’t recover,” said manager Davey Johnson. “So he should be alright. The doctor examined him. It doesn’t look like there’s any damage or anything. He wanted to pitch, but I said ‘No.’ With an 84 mph fastball? I don’t think so.”
Johnson said there was no plans to send Ohlendorf for an MRI.
– Bryce Harper also said he was fine after being removed from the game about an inning after he winced and knelt over in pain following a swing in the seventh inning. Johnson said Harper felt a spasm in his hip but both seemed to think the issue was minor and would not linger.
So here are some of the leftover (and some repeated) quotes from the clubhouse:
On the series: “Just got out (butts) kicked for two games. It’s something you don’t want to happen, but you’ve got to have heart. That’s the biggest thing right now. You’ve got to have heart right now. You’ve got to play as a family, and everybody’s got to want it, starting with the manager on down to everybody.
“Everybody wants to win this and keep going and whatnot, but we need to keep doing that. We need to get going and play better, hit better, have better ABs in certain situations and pitch better also. It’s something that we need to do. We play the Braves nine (more) games. This (stuff) ain’t over. I really don’t think it’s over. So we’ve just got to keep going, keep grinding and turn into the family that we were last year.”
On if he feels the Nationals are lacking that right now: “I mean, absolutely. I’m not the one to speak on it. I try to be a leader, but I’m younger. I think there’s things that we can do better, and I think everybody knows that. We’re a better team than we’re showing right now.”
On the remaining games with the Braves: “We can’t worry about the Braves, we’ve got to worry about staying out of fourth, fifth place. I don’t even know where we’re at now… But we’ve got to keep taking it one game at a time and play these last two months like we’ll never play this game again.”
On what the Nationals need: “I mean, we just need to be a family again. That’s the biggest thing. It all starts with having good camaraderie in the clubhouse, having an upbeat clubhouse every single day, having an upbeat manager and staff every single day, no matter what.
“We’ve got two more months. We’ve got two more months of baseball, and if we play like we’re capable, we will win this and we will do it. I know that for a fact, because we’ve got a great team, a great organization and we have guys on this team that are unbelievable. We need to keep going, keep grinding, and do the things that we need to do.”
On how they digest this series: “You don’t want to say we’ve gotten used to it, by any means, but it seems like we’ve had a few of these games where we’re down and, you know, in a big hole early. Again, missed some opportunities. I had some chances to drive some guys in, everything they had, if they got jammed it found a hole, if they hit it on the screws it was a base hit. It seems like a couple days where not a lot went our way on the defensive side and offensively didn’t take advantage of some situations.”
On if frustration is starting to creep in: “No, I mean, that was two months ago. We were scratching our heads two months ago trying to figure out what was going on. Again we find it for a couple days and then it’s gone. It’s a group effort. We’re all in this together. Fight to the end, see what happens, but stretches like these last two get pretty old.”
On if the blowout losses are indicative of something: “I can’t speak for everybody. To me a loss is a loss. If anything, it’s tougher when it’s one or two runs, when you can look back and know you were a hit away from or a play away from winning a game. Whether we lose by two or three or 10 I don’t know that it’s a huge difference.”
On his recent slump: “It feels like a lot of what I’ve been through throughout my career. I go back and watch film, work on some small things, see if I can pinpoint it. For whatever reason it takes one good swing, one bloop hit and I can find it and get going.”
On if there’s a message in the Nationals not making a deadline trade: “When the trade deadline comes around, you cause whatever’s going to happen. Typically if you’re playing well and you’re in the hunt, you’ll fill some holes. If you’re down and out, chance to get rid of some guys. I think we kind of sat there right in the middle knowing that this team’s good enough to get it done and just isn’t doing it. I don’t see any glaring weaknesses that we needed to fill.”
On his rocky outing: “Just didn’t feel comfortable on the mound. I was just trying to find my arm slot but there’s no excuses. You’ve got to go out there and attack the strike zone. Can’t make mistake pitches to a good-hitting team. These are one of those losses that you learn from. Hope to pitch better next start.”
On what he learned: “Got to learn how to attack the strike zone. If your curveball and your fastball are not on command you’ve got to go out there and keep pounding. It’s a lot easier said than done. If it came in a box everybody would do it. If there was one of those easy buttons you could push, it’s not there. It’s one of those things you have to learn from, move forward. It won’t be the last. You just keep learning. Baseball’s all about learning and I’m still learning throughout my career.”
On his struggles during day games this season: “I mean, it’s weird. (Stephen Strasburg) and I joke around, he gets the rainy days, I get the day games. Flip a coin. One of those situations you just have to learn to adjust to. Waking up early and trying to attack the strike zone. You can’t blame the weather, any excuses. You’ve just still got to pitch whether night or day, still have to play your game.”
On if there was any explanation for his lack of comfort after a dominant three-month stretch: “Three months, you’re bound to run into one hiccup. Just so happened to be against a good team. I faced some pretty good teams. This ain’t going to dictate who I am as a pitcher. I’m going to go out there and keep pitching how I pitch and try to get more wins for the team. Today I couldn’t help out as much as possible and I feel bad because I feel like I let the team down, especially when they needed that over the hill, that push to go in the right direction.”
On if it stings more given the state of the team: “As a starting pitcher you want to do your best every start. You don’t want to put the game in someone else’s hands. I feel bad that I used up our bullpen the way I did. It’s one of those tough things where if it could be a different scenario, I’d want to go out there and pitch 7-8 innings instead of (3 1/3) of an inning. It’s one of those things where, like I said, I’m still learning. Got to turn the page, move forward, I’m not going to let this game dictate who I am. I’m a better pitcher than I showed today. I’ve just got to learn how to turn the page and feel better about myself tomorrow.”
On Gio Gonzalez: “He got hit. They put the bat on the ball and barreled him up. He pitched behind the count, more than he would have liked today. It’s one of those days.
“His curveball was not his best. He made some good pitches. They got some hits to show, too. He was making some good pitches, some bleeders. They had a good approach off him today. They were getting him in the zone, getting him early, and get the heater.
“It’s tough. It’s pretty tough when you really aren’t throwing your breaking balls for strikes. You’ve got to throw your heater. Good teams like that, if you can eliminate pitches from Gio, against any pitcher, it becomes tough. It was a tough one. Gio did make some good pitches that got hit, but hitting is contagious.”
On the standings: “You can’t worry about that. We understand what the situation is. Our situation is to take care of day-to-day. You can’t look at standings and that stuff, because then you’ll drive yourself crazy.
On the Nationals standing pat at the trade deadline: “Personally, I don’t take too much stock into that. We started with a team in spring training that we felt good with and still feel good with. It’s definitely nice that they feel the same way. You try not to worry about that stuff. You’ve got to take care of business.”