After being swept by Atlanta in a three game series in which the team was outscored 23-11, the Nationals took their frustration out on the Marlins in a 9-2 win in Monday nights series opener. The victory kept the Nationals(8-5) just one and a half games back of the Braves, who won Monday night in Philadelphia, while the loss was the Marlins eighth in a row, dropping the team to 5-9 after they had opened with an impressive 5-1 start to the season.
The Nats offense, which sputtered in the last two games of the Braves series, erupted early against the Marlins in the series opener off starter Brad Hand (0-1), who made his second start of the season in place of the injured Jacob Turner. After Hand retired Anthony Rendon and Kevin Frandsen quickly to start the opening frame, Jayson Werth lifted a changeup off of the very top of the left center field wall for a double. After a replay review confirmed that the hit was not a home run, Bryce Harper drilled a fastball into the right center field gap for an RBI triple and a quick 1-0 Nationals lead. Tyler Moore, who made his first start of the season in place of Adam LaRoche who had his first day off of the season, led off the top of the second inning by drilling a 2-0 pitch into the Marlins bullpen in right field for his first home run of the season. After a Danny Espinosa double and a Sandy Leon base hit put two runners on, Anthony Rendon continued his torrid start to 2014 with a two run double down the left field line for a 4-0 lead. Hand would leave after allowing another run in the following frame on an RBI triple by Espinosa to drive in Ian Desmond, who had singled himself on to open the inning. Over all, Hand worked three innings, allowing eight hits and five runs while striking out two.
The Nationals would be subdued by Marlins long reliever Kevin Slowey until the seventh inning, when the Nationals exploded for four more runs off of the former Minnesota Twin pitcher. Sandy Leon hit a two run homer to right field, his first MLB homer, and Anthony Rendon and Tyler Moore had an RBI triple and single respectively.
On the bump, Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) pitched like the ace arm he is supposed to be. The country strong right hander picked up his first victory of 2014 with seven strong innings of two run ball. He struck out seven and one, while going 2-3 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt. Reed Johnson put the Marlins on the board in the second inning with an RBI base hit to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Garrett Jones took a Zimmermann fastball deep into the right field stands in the sixth for the Marlins second run.
The victory continued an early string of success for the Nationals. The team moved to 7-0 against teams besides the Atlanta Braves, against which they are 1-5. On Tuesday night, Stephen Strasburg (1-1) will pitch against Tom Koehler. Strasburg, of course, will be looking to build off of the success of his last start against the Marlins on April 10th, when the right hander struck out a season high 12 batters in six and two thirds innings. Tuesdays game will start at 7:05 ET.
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