Before first pitch on Tuesday night, Nationals Park was already mostly filled, a rarity for an early week game against a sub-.500 division opponent, and the reason was clear. Fans lined up hours outside the stadium before the game to get one of the 25,000 Jayson Werth garden gnomes given away by the Nationals. By 6:15 p.m., all of them had been given away. Some were already on eBay even before they had been given away.
The announced attendance was 40,686, so a large portion of people didn’t get one of the hot-ticket items, including the most central person: Werth himself.
“I know how they feel,” Werth said with a grin after the game.
Werth, a fan favorite for his quirky demeanor and strong hitting, flashed another smile when asked about the gnome giveaway. The Nationals have given away Werth bobbleheads in the past, but this one was different. The diminutive figurine was cartoonish, sported sunglasses and a gnome hat.
“The stories I’ve heard are pretty good,” Werth said. “Obviously a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday. Unfortunately I feel like there’s a bunch of people who didn’t get them. For those people who showed up a little too late, I guess, it’s too bad. But pretty good crowd [Tuesday].
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a win for them. A night like [Tuesday], when it’s your giveaway, you’ve got a bobblehead or a gnome or whatever, you’d like to perform a little better than I did. So I feel bad about that, and obviously the loss hurts a little. Hopefully we can win the next two games and win the series.”
Werth went 1 for 4 with a double and was thrown out at home plate with no outs in the sixth inning. Before his first at-bat, Werth took an extra swing in the on-deck circle to soak up the loud applause from the gnome-adoring fans.
But Werth limped after running to first on his groundout. Trainer Lee Kuntz checked on Werth, but he remained in the game. He walked gingerly back to right field after trying to catch a bloop single to right-center field in the second inning.
Werth sprained his ankle last week in Miami and the injury hasn’t completely healed. When Werth doubled to lead off the sixth inning, he raced out of the batter’s box and ran hard to second base without any issue.
“I’ve been playing on it,” he said. “Obviously when you sprain your ankle, you’re going to have to play through some pain. … It’s playable. I’m just hanging in there.”
FROM THE POST
Nationals unable to take advantage of chances, fall to the Mets, 6-1, writes Adam Kilgore.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Scranton/WB 1: Taylor Hill earned his 10th win after allowing only one run over 6 2/3 innings. Aaron Barrett fired 1 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out one. Xavier Cedeno notched his fourth save with a scoreless ninth. Brandon Laird hit his 13th home run and drove in three runs. He is hitting .314. Emmanuel Burriss went 2 for 4 and is hitting .306.
Reading 3, Harrisburg 2: James Simmons allowed three runs on five walks and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Paul Demny went two scoreless in relief. Adrian Sanchez went 2 for 4. Kevin Keyes and Jason Martinson each drove in a run.
Potomac 6, Winston-Salem 2: Brian Rauh went six scoreless and gave up only three hits. Bryan Harper, who is back at Potomac, fired a scoreless inning. Stephen Perez walked three times and Isaac Ballou drove in two runs.
Hagerstown 10, West Virginia 6: Lucas Giolito allowed three runs on seven hits, and struck out five over five innings. Jake Johansen pitched two innings of relief. Wilmer Difo hit his 11th home run. Rafael Bautista and David Masters each drove in two runs.