"That was real disappointing," Davey Johnson told reporters Sunday afternoon, after the Washington Nationals' 13-4 loss to the San Diego Padres. "That one, I hate to even talk about that one today," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper said, "We didn't pitch very well. We got back in the ballgame. [Dan] Haren obviously didn't have his good stuff, but got back in the ballgame and the reliable bullpen just didn't do it." The Nationals trailed 3-0 early, but made it close with Ryan Zimmerman's two-run blast in the top of the fourth. An inning later, after Zimmerman had grounded out in a two-on, two-out chance in the top of the fifth, the Padres scored four on a leadoff home run by Will Venable, RBI single by Jedd Gyorko and two-run home bomb by Kyle Blanks.
Haren ended up surrendering nine hits and seven runs in his ninth start of the year. The middle of the Nats' lineup tried once more to get back in the game with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche singling in runs in the top of the seventh, but by the time Ryan Mattheus got the third out of the San Diego seventh, the Padres had added five runs on four hits in what ended up a 13-4 loss in Petco Park.
"You have to have a lot of patience sometimes in this job," Johnson said, "But the middle of the lineup is swinging that bat very good, and the other guys -- it looks like they're starting to come around. I like the way the pitching has been. Sometimes it just takes time to gel, to get it all together." The middle of the Nationals' lineup, namely Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, was a combined 3 for 8 with a run scored and four RBIs on Sunday. Zimmerman's 10 for 26 (.385/.448/.654) with a double and a home run seven games into the Nats' 10-game road trip. LaRoche's RBI single in the seventh extended his current hit-streak to 16 games, over which he's 21 for 55 (.382/.462/.636) with two doubles and four home runs.
Danny Espinosa, on the other hand, continues to struggle at the plate. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo reiterated on Sunday, in a conversation with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that the second baseman was the team's best option right now in spite of the fact that he's 1 for 24 with 12 Ks so far on the Nationals' trip out west, with a .163/.191/.296 line on the year after 37 games and 141 plate appearances. "Danny's been trying to get it together," Davey Johnson told a reporter who asked about his approach at the plate after Espinosa's 0 for 4 game in Sunday's loss. "He's been just struggling, everybody knows that," Johnson said, "He's probably sometimes his own worst enemy. But he's not alone, there's some other guys right there with him."
The Nationals won't ever use it as an excuse since every team has to deal with injuries throughout the season, but they have been missing Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and pitcher Ross Detwiler, who would have started tonight if not for the oblique issue which has sidelined him. Zach Duke will start in Detwiler's place in San Francisco's AT&T Park. Werth's return has apparently been delayed by a flare-up of the hamstring issue which has him on the DL, but Harper, who's still recovering from the effects of his collision with Dodger Stadium's right field wall, could return as soon as tonight, bringing some pop back to the Nationals' lineup.
"It's a tough situation with [Bryce Harper] out," the Nationals' skipper said on Sunday night, "He's getting better, he should be -- maybe he'll be okay for tomorrow. Detwiler, his pain is getting less in his side, so it's possible that he's only going to miss one start. He probably won't play catch tomorrow. But if it's better tomorrow, he'll probably play the next day and that will line him up to start at nine days, something like that. And that puts a little crimp in things. But we'll survive it. We've got some good guys. We'll survive this thing."
Johnson went on to say that Harper, whose left knee has kept him out, is working hard to get back in the lineup. "He's been getting a lot of treatment on it, he's still got some swelling in there, we'll see how it is tomorrow."
Harper sounds like he's ready to play:
10:10 pm EST tonight from San Francisco...