When Davey Johnson categorized his team’s hitting approach as “patiently aggressive” back in June, he added that at the time they were leaving out the “patiently” part. In Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader at least, the Nationals used both facets of the approach to a T.
Washington took advantage of six walks by Miami starting pitcher Brad Hand and got a big game from Adam LaRoche to lead the Nationals to a 7-4 win over the Marlins in the first of two games Friday at Nationals Park.
LaRoche homered and drove in three runs to pace the Washington offense, which was helped immensely by Hand’s free passes. Hand (0-1), called up from AAA New Orleans to make the start for the Marlins, had trouble with his command from the outset, walking a pair in the first inning to get the Nationals’ day started. LaRoche drove in a run in his first at-bat and Mark DeRosa dribbled a two-run single through the infield to give Washington an early 3-1 lead.
LaRoche hit a long solo homer in the third, his 20th of the season, and drove in another run in the fourth thanks to a bases-loaded walk. That was one of two walks Hand surrendered with the sacks full in that inning, the other to DeRosa after an infield single by Tyler Moore. At that point, Marlins manger Ozzie Guillen had seen enough.
Meanwhile, the Nationals were getting another splendid spot start from John Lannan, who was also summoned for a one-and-done start from AAA for the second time this season. Lannan (2-0) began this one in almost identical fashion to his last one, against the Braves on July 21. After a somewhat shaky first inning, Lannan settled in and threw well from that point, getting into the seventh inning and allowing three runs on four hits and five walks.
“I wish I could stay up here but I know the deal,” Lannan said after the game to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. “I’ve got to go back down there [to AAA Syracuse] and keep on working.”
The Nationals did have to go to closer Tyler Clippard in the ninth inning to pick up his 22nd save of the season, after the Marlins put together a mini-rally to bring the tying run to the on-deck circle. Clippard did allow an inherited run to score, but set down the Fish on three ground balls to end the game.
Champ of the Game: Adam LaRoche. The on-fire first baseman finished a triple shy of the cycle, continuing a great run of form at the plate. LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 11 games and is hitting .463 since it started. For the Marlins, Brett Hayes had a 2-for-3 day, driving in a run in the seventh and scoring one in the ninth.
Chump of the Game: Jesus Flores. It wasn’t the best of days for Flores, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a passed ball. In addition, it appears his days as the Nationals every-day catcher are over for the time being as well, with Washington having acquired Kurt Suzuki earlier in the day. For Miami, Hand’s inability to throw strikes put the Marlins behind the eight-ball early, as Washington jumped out to a 7-1 lead after four innings. Not how you want to start a two-game day.