The Washington Nationals kicked off a 10 game intradivision road trip on Friday in Miami, starting a trip that will take them down to Florida before heading up to face Atlanta and then the red-hot Mets. Washington entered looking to get their offense back on track after dropping two of three against St. Louis in games in which their offense lacked consistency.
Jordan Zimmermann came in looking to get off a slide of his own. The Nats pitcher, who had developed into one of the most dependable starters in the Nationals stacked rotation, had gotten off to a forgettable start to 2015. In his three starts, Zimmermann had compiled a 1-2 record with a ERA over 6. His last two starts were particularly bad. In those games, he went a combined 8.2 innings and surrendered 12 runs, 9 of them earned. If the Nationals wanted to get back on track, they would need Zimmermann to step up against Mat Latos.
The game started off as a pitchers’ duel. The Nats struck first on offense, but not until the fourth inning. Ian Desmond, who came into the game with a nine-game hitting streak, stretched it to 10 on a lead-off double. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper brought Desmond home and gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
The Marlins fought back in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Ichiro reached on an infield single. Hechavarria put runners on first and second with a single to center field. Then, Mat Latos helped his own cause with a single to tie the game up at one apiece. The next hitter, Dee Gordon, singled to give the Marlins the lead. Fortunately, they escaped any further two-out damage when Harper was able to throw out Gordon trying to stretch the single into a double.
The next inning, the Nationals got the game even again. Denard Span found himself on second after a single and a stolen base. While Desmond and Werth could not bring him in, Bryce Harper delivered with two outs, shooting a ball to right field. Giancarlo Stanton‘s throw came in late, and the Nats and Marlins started over, this time at 2-2.
It would stay that way until the bottom of the eighth Hechavarria led off the inning with a double off of Tanner Roark, pitching in his second inning of work after retiring all three hitters he faced in the seventh. After the Nats caught a break on an attempted bunt by Donovan Solano, Dee Gordon reached on an infield single off of Matt Grace to put runners at the corners with one out. Aaron Barrett was called in to face Martin Prado, and promptly allowed a single to right field to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
Miami would take that one run lead to the ninth as Steve Cishek came in to close out the game for the Marlins. The Miami relief pitcher did not enter with good numbers, but the Nationals could not capitalize. They went down in order, and the game ended with the third straight loss for Washington, who fall to 7-10 on the season.
- The Nationals got some spectacular play from their outfielders Friday night. Jayson Werth and Denard Span both made long runs to make impressive catches (Span’s over the shoulder basket catch was a thing of beauty), while Bryce Harper helped out by throwing out Dee Gordon at second to help kill a Marlins rally.
- Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t exactly dominant, but it was an improvement from his last two starts. Zimm finished with 6 IP having surrendered 2 runs (both earned) with 4 strikeouts and no walks. Hopefully this is something he can build on moving forward.
- The Nationals really need Casey Janssen to get healthy fast. The bullpen has continued to struggle, particularly in the eighth inning. Williams has attempted to mix and match pitchers to get through tough situations, but as of right now, it isn’t working.