LOS ANGELES — There was plenty about the Washington Nationals’ 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night that was familiar.
They’ve seen the scoreboard littered in zeroes and the occasional “1” glowing back at them. They’ve dealt with the frustrations that come with leaving nine runners on base and in scoring position; with finishing game after game feeling they’re far better than they showed.
But their losses on Wednesday were different. Losing the game, and even the series, can seem somewhat trivial when you watch your starting pitcher and your starting catcher exit with injuries in the span of an inning.
That was the unfortunate circumstance the Nationals found themselves in. Left-hander Ross Detwiler left after three innings with spasming on the right side of his back. Wilson Ramos joined him just a few outs later when he aggravated the left hamstring strain that kept him on the disabled list for two weeks in April.
By the time the bottom of the fourth inning began, Craig Stammen was pitching and Kurt Suzuki was catching him.
“Tough night,” manager Davey Johnson said, his tone somber.
While the Nationals are hopeful Detwiler won’t have to miss a start, he said it was too soon to say, and he wasn’t feeling “all that great” after the game. Ramos will most likely be placed on the disabled list on Thursday. Though he was somewhat optimistic he might be able to avoid it, Ramos, who first felt the hamstring on his second-inning double, understood the team can’t play without a backup catcher for long.
The plan, Johnson said, was to summon Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A.
And for perhaps the unluckiest man in the major leagues, there was another setback to ponder.
“I don’t want to be on the DL again,” said Ramos, who has endured a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee, and now two left hamstring injuries in little more than a calendar year. And all of that came on the heels of his harrowing kidnapping and rescue in Nov. 2011.
“I was feeling great everyday,” added Ramos, who came off the disabled list on April 29, has played without incident since and was 2-for-2 before he was pulled. “I can’t believe this right now. I was working hard with my hamstring and trying to get it stronger. I don’t know what happened today. I was feeling very good before I felt it today… I’m very mad right now.”
For the Nationals, as they continue to jog in place with a 21-19 record, the injuries seem to continue to pile up.
As soon as Ryan Zimmerman was ready to return from his own strained hamstring two weekends ago, Jayson Werth went down with one. With Werth expected to return on Saturday, Ramos appears likely to be out a few weeks. Bryce Harper pinch hit in the ninth inning, but said after the game that he felt “terrible,” and is still dealing with significant soreness in the left side of his abdomen since colliding with the right field wall on Monday.
They haven’t been able to use their Opening Day lineup since April 14.
“It’s frustrating,” Zimmerman said. “Not being able to have your team or your lineup together is never good… We have guys who are capable to fill in and we should still score runs, but guys who are in the starting lineup and playing everyday are doing that for a reason. When you don’t have those guys in there every single day, it definitely makes a difference. Other teams deal with that too. Other people have to pick it up. I have to pick it up.”
After the Nationals built a large lead on Josh Beckett on Monday, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and a host of relievers combined to hold them to just one run over the series’ final 22 innings.
The Nationals threatened on multiple occasions on Wednesday, putting the tying run on third base twice from sixth inning on, but they squandered every opportunity. They put the first two runners on in the eighth and watched their No.’s four, five and six-hole hitters make outs.Their only run came on a long solo homer by Adam LaRoche in the fourth.
“We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we’re trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and put it in play. I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out. We’ve got the guys to do it.”
They got yeoman’s work from Stammen, who tossed three scoreless innings in relief to save the bullpen, and Suzuki added a single to make the catchers 3-for-4 on the night, but the offense as a whole never recovered from two early Dodger runs.
The loss was their 19th of the season, a number they didn’t reach for almost another two weeks during the 2012 season.
“We faced two pretty good pitchers,” Zimmerman said. ” We can do better than zero runs and one run, but you’ve got to give them credit sometimes… But we have to do better. We have to put some runs on the board.”