Sometimes you can just feel the magic run out for the Washington Nationals.
Whether it was one of the heartbreaking Games 5 of the mid-teens or Friday night’s 10-5 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, there’s a palpable moment when the tension leaves Nationals Park, and fans are left with that gnawing feeling in the pit of their stomach.
The magic of the month of June for the Washington Nationals ended two days ago, and the team once again has an active losing streak and injuries all over the field after dropping two straight to the Dodgers.
“I don’t feel like we have an injury bug, we have an injury rat running around the clubhouse,” said starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who left with a 3-1 lead but did not factor in the decision. “It feels like it’s just biting everyone.”
Two days ago, the Nats were flying high and seemed to have all the momentum. Now they are dealing with injuries in the infield, outfield, and bullpen.
‘We’re in a critical stretch and we’re having guys dropping like flies right now,” said Scherzer. “It’s unfortunate.
“Nobody is going out there trying to get hurt. We’re just seeing guys get hurt for various reasons. It’s kind of a bad luck situation right now.”
The run of good luck the Nats experienced in June was completely gone by the time Kyle Schwarber pulled up lame Friday night after rounding first base in the second inning.
Manager Davey Martinez told reporters the slugger is scheduled for an MRI on Saturday, and the team will look at the report.
“When you see a guy grab his leg like that, he’s on first base, you’ve got to get him out of the game, we’ve got to check him and see,” Martinez said.
If Schwarber is out for an extended time, the Nats will be missing a leadoff hitter, a left fielder, and a major power threat, and it might take more than one player to fill those roles.
One obvious option to fill the leadoff spot, Trea Turner, is still day-to-day after jamming his left middle finger Sunday.
“We’re just waiting for the swelling to go down,” said Martinez. “He was moving his hand a little bit during the game today, so that’s always a good sign, so now it’s just about feeling strength, he’s got to hold the bat.”
So the leadoff spot is still up in the air.
Any good news on the outfield?
Martinez said Andrew Stevenson is headed for a rehab assignment in Rochester.
“He’s actually going to go out and play,” said Martinez. “He’s missed some time, he’s going to go get at bats, and he’s going to go out and play in Rochester, but it might not be a long stint, you know, because like I said, we might need some players.”
How about the bullpen and injured starters?
“I’m hoping that [Kyle] Finnegan comes back and says he’s fine,” Martinez said after three injured pitchers threw bullpens on Friday. “[Daniel Hudson] threw the ball well, [Stephen] Strasburg threw the ball well, so they’re progressing really well, so hopefully we get those guys back, at least a couple of them back here really soon.
Scherzer said the injuries the team has seen this year are unexpected, but not unpredictable, when playing a full season after last year’s pandemic-shortened 60-game slate.
“You know the injuries are going to be around,” he said. “I pride myself on my durability, to be able to make every single post. Unfortunately, I did have to go to the IL here for the groin injury, so that’s frustrating for me to miss a post.
“This is dangerous for everyone across the league, so you’ve got to respect the challenges that this is going to bring about.”
No matter what the plan, Martinez says the team will stay optimistic.
“Yeah, we got to stay positive. It’s a long season, I’ve always said that,” Martinez said. “So, we’ve been kind of down and out in the past and we survived, and we’ll do it again.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in the guys that we have here to step up and help us win games, and tomorrow, we’ll try to go 1-0 tomorrow, with the guys that are available, and we’ll go from there.”