At some point, the Nationals will view Turner Field as cursed. Over the past season-plus, it seems every visit here is accompanied by wacky plays, unusual incidents and injuries. Aside from the bizarre plays on Friday night, the Nationals lost Denard Span to a concussion after a collision on the basepaths. And on Saturday, they lost Ryan Zimmerman to a fractured right thumb for four to six weeks. Some notes from the loss, the Nationals’ fourth of the season:
>>> Jayson Werth was held out of Saturday’s starting lineup because of groin tightness from the previous game. But before the game, Williams said Werth was available but wanted to avoided using him if needed. Werth pinch hit in the eighth inning and hit a line drive to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who couldn’t cleanly corral the ball. Werth raced down the line and reached base safely.
Afterwards, Werth said he felt good. He ran during batting practice and shagged flyballs. “I was fine,” he said. “I think it was just more precautionary than anything else. It’s early in the season and you don’t want to do anything stupid. I should be good.”
Werth wouldn’t say if he would be in Sunday’s lineup, but given his evaluation it seemed like a possibility. He dealt with a groin issue at times last season and has said he found himself susceptible to groin injuries.
“I remember doing something like this even as far back as high school,” he said. “It’s just one of those things I deal with. It’s a daily thing. Usually I do pretty good with it, but sometimes it pops up. Usually I don’t miss any time for it but Matt wanted to be cautious today and that’s fine. But I was available.”
>>> Williams showed perhaps his most visible display of anger, and afterwards used strong words, when he lost a challenge of a close force play at first base in the third inning. Nate McLouth tried to bunt for a base hit against left-handed starter Alex Wood. McLouth was called out by the umpires but replays seemed to show that he beat the throw by a hair.
After losing the challenge, Williams threw down his gum in the dugout and his face showed frustration. A replay umpire in the New York office can only overturn a play if there is “clear and convincing evidence” to do so. Williams said the Nationals video staff told him there was such evidence, and after the game he reviewed the play himself and felt the same way.
“I’m extremely frustrated by the process at this point,” Williams said. “Because if they’re seeing the same feed that we’re seeing, I don’t know how he’s out. I don’t know how Nate is out if they have the same feed that we have, so that’s frustrating because I thought he was safe. We’ve looked at it 100 times since then, and we believe he was safe. And if that is a safe call, then we maintain our challenge. … Again, I’m frustrated by the first one, though, because I see him as safe. And we have the same technology and the same video. I don’t know about that one. That frustrates me.”
Because he lost that challenge, Williams didn’t have one he could exercise for the rest of the game. The play in the fourth inning — in which Adam LaRoche fielded a line drive and tried to turn two but umpires ruled the ball bounced — wasn’t reviewable.
>>> By the 12th game of the season, the Nationals will have used Sandy Leon, Tyler Moore, Blake Treinen, Steven Souza Jr., and both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan, and Zach Walters is likely be join the list. Who would have guessed that before the season started?
>>> The Nationals are now 7-17 against the Braves since the beginning of the 2013 season. Add the final month of 2012 and the Nationals are 7-20 against the Braves. Since Aug. 22, 2012, the Nationals are 107-77 against everyone else except the Braves.
“There’s no finger to put on it,” Williams said. “The fact that they’ve beaten us these games is what it is. We have a lot of games left. We need to play well to beat anybody. That’s a function of us not playing up to our capabilities in the last couple games and them doing well. So that happens sometimes, and there are a lot of games left. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
>>> In the fifth inning, McLouth was charged with an error for failing to make a clean transfer from his glove of a caught flyball to his throwing hand. Umpires have been instructed to enforce the transfer rule more strictly this season.
“That’s probably happened to me five or six times in my career and I understand they changed the rule or the wording of a rule or something like that,” he said. “Per the rule, the umpire enforced it correctly. He called it correctly. It’s like a common sense: you catch the ball, you got to transfer it, you drop it, you still caught it. Per the rule, it was enforced correctly. It was unfortunate but it didn’t cost us a run luckily.”
>>> Ian Desmond almost experienced deja vu in the eighth inning. He hit a ball to right field that came to rest under the padding. Jason Heyward threw up his hands as Desmond raced all the way around the bases. Second base umpire Angel Hernandez ran to the ball, bent down, examined the ball and ruled that it was lodged under the padding. Desmond was awarded a ground-rule double.
Both of Desmond’s doubles this season have been “lodged” under padding. Last week at Nationals park, his double/non-double caused confusion when Justin Upton threw his hands up but then picked up the ball and threw it in.
>>> On sad anecdote about Zimmerman: Werth said he was talking with Zimmerman about two or three days ago about the first month of season.
“We were just talking the other day about having a good April and how important it was to get through April not only healthy but hot,” Werth said. “Put up good numbers and win a bunch of games in April and kind of set up your season. It was probably two, three days ago we were talking about that. You feel bad for him. It’s such a freak injury on a play like that. But we’ll be alright. We’ve got some good players. We’ll manage. Anytime you lose the guy in the middle of your lineup, it hurts. But we’ve got guys who can play here, and I think we’re bringing up a kid that can play. We’ll have to figure out a way.”