The Dodgers rode the outstanding pitching of Ross Stripling, and some timely hitting from Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe and Max Muncy, to down the Nationals 4-1 in game one of a split doubleheader Saturday at Nats Park.
The most devastating play that will be remembered from this one is the injury sustained by left fielder Howie Kendrick in the eighth inning. The outfielder left the game after injuring his right leg on a sacrifice fly by Muncy to deep left field. He went for an MRI immediately after the game.
Bryce Harper had the lone RBI single for the Nats in the third. He said the Kendrick injury cannot be overstated: “It’s a huge loss. Not something you want to see, especially when we need him. Super bummed out but see what it is and go from there.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with,” Harper said of Kendrick. “Such a great guy in the clubhouse, great guy on the field. Shows up every single day, same guy. Same mentality. Like I said, I’m not sure what happened, but I guess we’ll see and go from there.”
Harper wore sport spectacles for his first at-bat because he was unable to get his contacts in during pregame.
“I couldn’t get my contacts in this morning,” Harper said. “So, I just wore those for the first at-bat and tried to get them the best I could the second at-bat, didn’t get them in the second at-bat, then I got them in finally in my third at-bat and went from there.”
Stripling held the Nationals to one run on four hits over six innings. Harper said the right-hander was able to keep the Nats off balance most of the day.
“I thought he painted the corners pretty well,” Harper noted. “I thought he threw some strikes on and off the plate and just pitched to his best ability that he could today.”
Nats starter Tanner Roark was solid with seven innings, allowing three runs, but on a season-high 117 pitches. The Dodgers big hits were a leadoff triple by Pederson, two hits in the fifth by Pederson and Forsythe and RBI double from Muncy in the sixth.
“He was awesome,” said manager Davey Martinez. “He was really good. Kept us in the ballgame. Tried to give him a chance to win the ballgame. Stripling was really good, so I tip my hat off to him.”
Roark labored for 21 pitches in the first and said that he had a bit of trouble getting into a nice groove, but battled through seven innings. Only Trevor Gott and Carlos Torres were used out of the bullpen to finish out the game.
“I mean it’s just taking that much time off is never ... I mean it can be good but ... early in the season I’d like to keep on a routine, but then again, it’s mother nature and you can’t control that,” Roark said. “You got to do what you can.
“I felt good. I didn’t let my guard down in the sixth inning because I didn’t know if I was going to be done or not. They threw me back out there. I gave it everything I got because I know we have two games and we are going to need the bullpen for the second game too.”
Roark has now gone 115, 107 and 117 pitches in his last three starts. Is Martinez concerned about letting the starters ride heavy pitch counts?
“I think, one, I like to give them the opportunity to win a ballgame,” Martinez said. “And two, I think these guys can do it, I really do. And right now, they’re showing me that. He was fresh. The last inning he was throwing 92-93, so that’s a good indication that he still had a lot left in his tank.”