Detwiler’s next scheduled start is Monday in San Francisco. He said he didn’t know whether he will make it or not.
“It’s still the day of my last start,” Detwiler said. “I got to wait to see how I feel tomorrow.”
If the Nationals need a starter to replace Detwiler, they would likely choose between Stammen, left-handed long reliever Zach Duke and veteran right-hander Chris Young, whose results have been disappointing at Class AAA Syracuse. Wednesday night, Young allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits, settling his ERA over five minor league starts at 7.96.
Before the 2010 season, Detwiler underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right hip and missed the first three months of the season. He said that injury was related to the back spasms.
Detwiler left trailing, 2-0, after allowing six hits, including an opposite-field single to Greinke that drove in a run in the second inning. The modest lead served for the Nationals’ offense as a major obstacle: They had not rallied from a deficit of two runs or larger to win all season.
After LaRoche’s homer, which gave him a career-high 12-game hitting streak, the Nationals hardly threatened until the sixth. Suzuki’s two-out single off reliever Matt Guerrier put runners on the corners. The wrong man, at this moment, came up next. Espinosa weakly grounded the first pitch he saw to second base, making him 0 for his last 16.
Their impotence reached a new low in the eighth inning. Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman led off with back-to-back singles off Kenley Jansen, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Their cleanup hitter, LaRoche, stood at the plate, and the tying run stood 90 feet away. Surely, they had found an opportunity they couldn’t waste.
Except they did. LaRoche flied out to left, not quite deep enough to score pinch runner Eury Perez. Jansen struck out Ian Desmond with a high fastball. The inning fell to Suzuki, with two runners in scoring after Zimmerman’s swipe of second. Suzuki lifted a fly ball to right field, and after it settled in Andre Ethier’s glove, both runners skulked off the field.
“We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we’re trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball. I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out. We’ve got the guys to do it.”
The Nationals have not won when trailing after seven innings all season, and they would have to wait for another chance in San Diego. It did bring another difficult night to swallow, for reasons beyond their ineffective bats.
“Tough night,” Johnson said. “Tough night.”