Just when his teammates finally put him in prime position to earn his first win of the season, Aníbal Sánchez suffered an injury and was forced to depart this afternoon’s game at Nationals Park with only one out in the top of the second.
Sánchez had pitched effectively, retiring the first four Mets batters he faced before allowing a one-out single to J.D. Davis in the top of the second. Pitching with a 4-0 lead after his teammates busted out early against New York starter Zack Wheeler, Sánchez then walked Brandon Nimmo and immediately grimaced following his last pitch.
Director of athletic training Paul Lessard and manager Davey Martinez made their way out of the dugout, and after a brief conversation, Sánchez yelled into his glove before walking off the field alongside Lessard.
The Nationals later announced Sanchez’s departure was due to “left hamstring soreness.”
Erick Fedde, stretched out at Double-A Harrisburg to be a starter but now transitioning into a relief role, took over on the mound for Sánchez. Fedde got out of the second inning unscathed, but he gave all four runs back in the top of the third, with Michael Conforto blasting a three-run homer to right, leaving the game tied.
Sánchez entered this afternoon’s game 0-6 with a 5.27 ERA in eight starts so far this season. He was seeking to avoid joining Jason Marquis as the only starters in Nationals history to open a season 0-7, and when his teammates scored four quick runs in the bottom of the first he appeared well on his way to avoiding that ignominy.
The 35-year-old dealt with several shoulder injuries earlier in his career and had Tommy John surgery shortly after signing with the Red Sox at 19, but has not missed any time with an arm injury since 2015.
The Nationals signed Sánchez to a two-year, $19 million contract over the winter.
Update: After Fedde’s struggles in the third, the Nationals bullpen has done its job to keep the team in this game. Fedde retired the side in the fourth, and Dan Jennings and Justin Miller each followed with a perfect inning of his own. And when Gerardo Parra launched his second homer in a week, the Nats retook a 6-4 lead in the fifth.
Update II: It’s the Parra-Kurt Suzuki Show today, folks. They combined forces for a key insurance run in the seventh, with Parra drawing a two-out walk and then stealing second. That put him in position to score on Suzuki’s RBI single to right, making it 7-4. Add a scoreless inning of relief from Kyle Barraclough, and the Nats bullpen continues to do its job today after Sanchez’s early departure.