It could have been worse.
John Lannan, the Washington Nationals starting pitcher, was cruising, having registered five of his first 10 outs via strikeout. In the top of the fourth, however, he ran into some trouble. With one out, he gave up consecutive singles to bring up Colorado Rockies cleanup hitter Ty Wigginton. On a 1-1 count, Lannan tried to bury a fastball in on Wigginton's hands, but the stocky slugger put a good inside-out swing on the ball, driving it right back at Lannan.
Lannan tried to get his glove up to protect himself, but it was no use. The line drive hit him on the right cheek below his eye, and caromed all the way into center field for a base hit, scoring a run. Lannan went down immediately, clutching his face, but got up and immediately headed toward the dugout, blood dripping from his nose. He was met by a team trainer halfway to the dugout and the pair walked directly into the tunnel toward the clubhouse.
A couple innings later, a team spokesman said that Lannan had suffered a "nasal contusion", and was considered day-to-day. After the game, it was reported that Lannan was taken to the hospital for further observation, but team officials expect him to be okay. With the upcoming All-Star break, the Nats are hopeful he won't even have to miss a start.
Manager Davey Johnson addressed the play after the game. "It's a manager's worst nightmare. We're very fortunate that it didn't do a lot of damage. That ball was smoked. The good news was he got his glove up to deflect it off so he didn't get it too bad. I think he's gonna be alright."
"I don't know how he didn't end up with a broken nose."
Lannan was extremely fortunate that it was a glancing blow with his head turned. It could have been much, much worse it he'd taken that line drive flush to his face.
As for the game, Ryan Mattheus entered cold but got a ground ball to force Wigginton at second, setting up runners on the corners with two outs. But he balked in Todd Helton from third for the second run of the inning and gave up rookie Cole Garner's first MLB single and RBI that scored Mark Ellis.
The three runs were all the Rockies needed to defeat the Nats 3-2, before an announced crowd of 19,046 at Nats Park. Washington managed just eight base runners all night on six hits and two walks, with three of those base runners coming in the bottom of the first with no outs. The Nats loaded the bases on a Roger Bernadina double, a Danny Espinosa walk and a Ryan Zimmerman infield single, but could only muster one run, as The Shark scored on a Michael Morse sacrifice fly.
The only other run for the Nats came on a no-doubt solo shot from Wilson Ramos in the bottom of the fourth.
But the most important development of the evening is the health of John Lannan. He did not speak with media following the game, but we'll publish an update tomorrow when more becomes available.
THE GOOD: Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard combined for four scoreless innings. It wasn't always easy or pretty, but they both got their jobs done last night.
THE BAD: Bottom of the ninth, Michael Morse led off with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Brian Bixler. Jayson Werth struck out on a slider in the dirt and the ball momentarily got away from Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta. Bixler broke for second but was gunned out easily, erasing any momentum for a comeback. Rick Ankiel struck out on three pitches to end the game.
"Bixler was just being aggressive late, I like that instinct," Johnson said.
THE UGLY: Obviously, Lannan's injury. Hopefully it's just a bad bruise and the black eye and headaches go away quickly for the lefty.
THE STATS: Six hits, two walks, six strikeouts. 1-for-3 with RISP, four LOB, one GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Saturday against the Rockies at 7:05 pm. Jason Marquis (7-3, 4.11) faces Jason Hammel (4-8, 4.31).
NATS NOTES: Before the game, C Pudge Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day D.L. with a strained oblique muscle, sustained during batting practice Thursday. Jesus Flores was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. Flores pinch-hit in the seventh and struck out.