A strong start, a disappointing finish (plus Morse update)

Any time you end up with a winning road trip, you’ll take it.

It’s not easy winning on the road in this league, especially when you’re playing in a division where every team has an above-.500 record.

But when you start a tough nine-game road trip against division opponents by going 5-1 and then proceed to lose your final three games before heading home, it takes some of the wind out of your sails.

It takes even more wind out of said sails when, on that nine-game road trip, you have to put your top pinch hitter and one of your better late-inning relievers on the DL, and then watch as your starting catcher suffers a hamstring injury and another reliever injures a finger on his throwing hand by slamming a door on it.

Yup, welcome to the life of the 2012 Washington Nationals, where it seems no bit of success comes without an injury or another blip on the radar of some kind.

After a strong start on the road, the Nationals entered this recent three-game set with the Marlins with a chance to do some real damage and give themselves a bit of breathing room in the National League East, and they failed to do so.

The three separate two-run losses - all of which were very winnable games - hurt, as do the latest batch of injuries, which saw reliever Ryan Mattheus (foot) and infielder Chad Tracy (groin) end up on the DL.

Just when you think things are clearing on the injury front - Jesus Flores might be able to return Friday from his mild hamstring issue and Michael Morse appears set to be back shortly thereafter - we learned last night that reliever Henry Rodriguez slammed his hand in a bathroom door, injuring his right index finger.

It just never ends, does it?

As seen on MASN’s “Nats Xtra,” manager Davey Johnson told reporters that Rodriguez threw yesterday with his finger in somewhat of a rubber brace, and the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious. If Rodriguez needs another couple days off, however, the time might actually help him to shake off his rough recent stretch, which includes allowing a run in each of his last three outings.

The Nats’ road trip wasn’t all doom and gloom, as despite the sweep at the hands of the Marlins, Johnson’s guys come back home still in first place, thanks to strong series in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

It’s just a little unfortunate that what once looked like an incredibly promising road stretch ended in only a slightly above-average one.

Here’s a quick Morse update: The rehabbing outfielder went 3-for-6 with a double and a walk over two completed games at Single-A Potomac yesterday. Morse served as the DH in both games, but told reporters that the plan is for him to play five innings in right field for the P-Nats today.

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