Though they’re still waiting for a final diagnosis, the Nationals decided not to wait any longer and placed Howie Kendrick on the 10-day disabled list and promote right-hander Jefry Rodriguez from Double-A Harrisburg in time for the second game of today’s doubleheader against the Dodgers.
Kendrick, who was injured after making what appeared to be a routine catch at the base of the left field wall in the top of the eighth of this afternoon’s opener, was already en route to get an MRI before the Nationals’ 4-1 loss was complete.
Shortly before first pitch of the nightcap, the club announced Kendrick had been placed on the 10-day DL with a “right Achilles injury,” bringing at least some clarity to where on his lower right leg he sustained the injury.
An injury to the Achilles tendon would explain the nature of Kendrick’s injury, one that did not appear to involve any hard contact unless his right foot got caught in the drainage grate that sits at the base of the wall in front of the left field bullpen.
It also would suggest Kendrick is going to miss significant time, a fear the rest of the Nationals seemed to convey when they spoke about the 34-year-old after the game.
“It’s awful to witness,” said Tanner Roark, who pitched the first seven innings of today’s loss. “It sucks all around, the year he’s been having and the kind of guy he is. Wants to win and wants to be out there all the time. To see him go down like that is awful.”
“It’s a huge loss,” right fielder Bryce Harper said. “Not something you want to see, especially when we need him. Super bummed out, but see what it is and go from there.”
With Kendrick out - and with Adam Eaton, Brian Goodwin, Victor Robles and Rafael Bautista all on the DL themselves - the Nationals turned to rookie Andrew Stevenson to start in left field tonight, alongside Michael A. Taylor and Harper. Moisés Sierra is the only healthy backup outfielder, though Matt Adams (a first baseman by trade) can and has played left field out of necessity already.
Having already called up infielder Adrian Sanchez from Triple-A Syracuse to serve as the 26th man for the doubleheader, the Nationals decided to use Kendrick’s vacated roster spot on a fresh arm that was nearby and able to get to the park in time to contribute tonight if needed.
Because Harrisburg already played this afternoon in nearby Richmond, the Nats were able to call up Rodriguez, a 24-year-old starter who last pitched five days ago and thus can provide innings should the need arise. The lanky right-hander, who missed much of last season while serving a suspension following a positive test for a performance enhancing drug, was 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA and 42 strikeouts in eight starts with Harrisburg.
Update: This game is off to a weird start. The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead against Max Scherzer after only two batters, thanks to a popup down the left field line that landed fair after Stevenson overran it, then a perfectly placed single through the shifted left side of the infield. Scherzer then proceeded to strike out six of the next seven batters. Dodgers starter Rich Hill, meanwhile, departed with an injury after only two pitches. Relievers Scott Alexander and Pedro Báez, however, have proceeded to retire their first nine batters without surrendering a hit. Yes, the Nats have been no-hit through three innings by three pitchers. Oh, and it’s raining again.
Update II: They’ve now played five innings, and the only thing that has changed is the fact the Dodgers have extended their lead to 2-0. They did so on Max Muncy’s 360-foot homer just over the right field fence off a 2-2 cutter from Scherzer in the top of the fifth. Scherzer has mostly been brilliant, striking out 10 through five innings. (It’s the seventh time in 10 starts this season he has struck out 10 or more batters.) But it doesn’t matter much at this point, because the Nats still don’t have a hit. They’ve put four runners on base in five innings against four Dodgers pitchers, but none of them reached via a base hit. This is starting to get interesting, folks.
Update III: Wow, the whole storyline just flipped big-time. The Nats batted around in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs, all with two outs. Mark Reynolds drove in the first one with a double into the left field corner. Matt Adams (sent up to pinch-hit for Pedro Severino with the bases loaded) drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single to right. Then Scherzer drove in the insurance run, his fourth RBI of the season. Just like that, it’s 4-2 Nats, and Scherzer will return to the mound for the top of the seventh at 108 pitches.
Update IV: This ain’t over yet, everybody. Cody Bellinger launched a homer off Sammy Solís in the eighth, and it required a big double play induced by Brandon Kintzler to strand the tying runner on third and preserve a 4-3 lead.
Update V: So much for that. For the first time this season, Sean Doolittle has blown a save. He gave up three straight hits to open the top of the ninth, capped by Matt Kemp’s two-run double into the left field corner. The Nats trail 5-4 and now have to try to rally off Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth.
Update VI: That’ll do it. Nats lose a heartbreaker, 5-4, and drop both ends of the doubleheader.