PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals avoided significant injuries to prominent players throughout the spring and entered the season as healthy as any team in baseball, but that run of good fortune may have come to an abrupt end.
Trea Turner had to come out of tonight’s game against the Phillies in the top of the first inning after suffering an apparent hamstring injury running the bases, a potentially major blow to a club that intends to rely on its dynamic leadoff hitter and shortstop heavily this season.
Turner led off the game legging out an infield single on a grounder to the hole at short, then stole second base. But when Daniel Murphy sent a base hit to right field moments later, Turner surprisingly held up at third, barely rounding the base despite being waved around by Bob Henley.
Adam Eaton, trailing behind on the play, made it 60 feet past second base before realizing what had happened, but still somehow managed to make it back without getting tagged out. Meanwhile, Henley looked at the Nationals dugout and appeared to indicate Turner had injured his hamstring, MASN’s Dan Kolko reported from the field.
Manager Dusty Baker and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard trotted out to check on Turner, who after a brief conversation walked back with Lessard to the dugout and departed the game.
Wilmer Difo, who was kept on the active roster earlier today when the Nationals elected to demote outfielder Michael A. Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse, took over for Turner on the bases and then at shortstop in the bottom of the inning.
Depending on the severity of Turner’s injury, Taylor could find himself right back on the big league roster. Though players who are optioned to the minors are required to stay down at least 10 days before being recalled, an exception is made if the player is replacing an injured teammate.
Update: As if Turner’s injury wasn’t a big enough problem, the Nationals just gave up 12 runs in the bottom of the first. Yes, 12. Ten of those were charged to Jeremy Guthrie, who faced 12 batters and recorded his only two outs via sacrifice flies. He gave up six hits and issued four walks.
Baker normally would have pulled the plug earlier, but the Nationals desperately need to give their bullpen a break tonight, so he had to ride Guthrie as long as he could. Eventually, it was just too much to take. Guthrie departed after throwing 47 pitches, his ERA at 135.00.
Enny Romero replaced Guthrie and struggled himself, giving up three hits to open the inning before finally striking out Cameron Rupp, the 16th batter of the inning.
It’s 12-0 Philly, and there are still at least 7 1/2 innings to play tonight. And, don’t forget, Turner got hurt in the top of the inning. Zoinks!
Update II: It’s 14-3 Phillies after six innings, but there actually have been positive developments for the Nationals. Most importantly, Joe Blanton threw three perfect innings of relief on 35 pitches, bailing out the bullpen and perhaps sparing Baker from needing to use a position player on the mound before this one is over. The Nats also scored three runs, getting RBIs from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Daniel Murphy also has three hits, giving him five multi-hit games in five games played.
Update III: It’s over. Mercifully. Final score: 17-3. That’s the second-most runs ever allowed by the Nats, falling just shy of the club record of 18 set July 5, 2006 against the Marlins.