The Nationals put up six straight runs this afternoon to make this game respectable and give themselves a shot late, but they couldn't overcome the seven-run deficit they were handed by Ross Detwiler. A 7-6 loss to the Rockies was the result, a loss that dropped the Nats back to a game under .500.
Detwiler allowed seven runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander relies almost exclusively on his two- and four-seam fastballs, and the Rockies weren't fooled by what Detwiler brought today.
"Basically he's a sinkerball pitcher. He's still very young, still learning how to use all the weapons in his arsenal," manager Davey Johnson said. "Today, he didn't feel like he had a good sinker or could locate it real good so he threw more changeups. But it's sequence pitching. He's been relying since he's been here on his fastball. And it's a good fastball hitting club and if you don't hit your spots on sinkers down and away, they're going to hurt you. First ball he gave up to (Michael Cuddyer) was a four-seamer out over the plate. It's a good fastball-hitting club, and you have to use set-up pitches. He's still early in doing that."
With the Nats attempting a comeback in the late innings, Johnson chose not to pinch-hit with Adam LaRoche, leaving his normal starting first baseman on the bench. He could have called on LaRoche when Chris Marrero came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, but instead let Marrero have a shot. The 24-year-old flied out to right on the first pitch he saw.
Johnson said after the game that LaRoche is fine health-wise, but he had reasons for sticking with Marrero.
"It's a long season and some of these guys - especially young guys on the bench - I'm not going to just completely take the bat (away from them), unless it's the tying run or something," Johnson said. "They've got to contribute and do the things I know they're capable of doing. The only chance I would've used LaRoche was with the right-hander in there but here's a pitcher (Rob Scahill) who was struggling, wild.
"You're going to get a fastball. (Marrero's) a pretty good fastball hitter. I don't like that he gets the first fastball in the middle, goes the other way with it, but a pitcher who is struggling to throw it over, the only thing he could throw is his fastball. I want to show them I have confidence in them in those situations."
Jayson Werth left today's game in the fourth inning after pulling his left groin when chasing a Cuddyer single in the third inning. Werth then felt the groin again when he pushed out of the batter's box following a fourth-inning single and was replaced for a pinch-runner.
The Nats don't know how severe the injury is at this point, but they hope Werth can avoid the DL.
"When you hit the ball normally, you take a big turn, but he shut it down early," Johnson said. "So (I) knew something was wrong. I was hoping he'd start feeling better, but obviously he wasn't."
From one injury to another, Johnson discussed the Nationals' decision to put Dan Haren on the disabled list with what the team is calling shoulder stiffness.
"He had some trouble getting loose," Johnson said. "I talked to him and Mike Rizzo felt better to let him rest it up, take some medication. Last year it was his back (that put him) on the disabled list. His back, he said, is fine. He's a gamer. He wasn't particularly pleased to go on the disabled list, but he knew it was probably the best thing.
"The last two times (out), he had trouble getting loose. And that could be a sign of a tired arm or whatever. We're not going to take any chances, we're just going to let him get healthy and finish up the way he did last year."
Ross Ohlendorf would seem to be a prime candidate to fill Haren's spot in the rotation, but it sounds like the Nats will go another direction. Johnson said they plan to call up someone from the minors, with Danny Rosenbaum (3.76 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse) or Taylor Jordan (0.73 ERA in eight games at Double-A Harrisburg) appearing to be the most likely candidates.
"We've got a couple guys we're real high on that we may give an opportunity up here," Johnson said. "There's also the opportunity to use Ohlendorf in that role, but don't really want to put a younger pitcher in the bullpen and put him in a long relief role."
Finally, Johnson said that Bryce Harper probably won't start his rehab appearance Tuesday, as the Nats had originally hoped. Harper will hit and work out at Nats Park again tomorrow and probably Tuesday, as well, and then could be ready to start his rehab Wednesday at high Single-A Potomac.