After a painfully slow start to the season, it looks like the tide has turned for the Washington Nationals.
Last week, the team took two out of three from the Braves and three out of four from the first-place Mets. The Nationals returned home Monday to take on the Marlins, and their good fortune continued as the team came from behind to beat Miami, 6-4, in one of the most exciting games of the season.
While the game ended in a Curly W, things didn’t start well for the Nationals. Facing Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, the Marlins put a runner on first with one out in the top of the first on a single by Martin Prado. Giancarlo Stanton then reached on a fielding error by Jayson Werth, and Prado scored later in the inning on an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna to give Miami a 1-0 lead.
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But the Nationals’ offense answered right away, tying the game on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the first. Unfortunately for the Nationals, that was all the damage they would do against Marlins starter David Phelps until the sixth inning, when each team scored a run to make it a 2-2 game.
Phelps was solid all night for the Marlins, allowing two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. Fortunately for the Nationals, Zimmermann was just as good, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out four over seven innings of work.
Once Zimmermann left the game, however, things started to slip away for the Nationals. The eight inning has been a problem for the ball club all season, and Monday night was no exception.
Blake Treinen took the mound for the Nationals in the eighth inning, and immediately walked Dee Gordon to put the leadoff man on for the Marlins. Treinen then struck out Martin Prado and intentionally walked Stanton to put runners on first and second. After walking Stanton, Treinen struck out Ozuna for the second out of the inning, and it looked like the Nationals would escape the frame unscathed. But after manager Matt Williams brought in Matt Grace to replace Treinen, Jeff Baker hit an RBI single to right field to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. The Marlins made it a 4-2 game later in the inning on an infield single by Ichiro Suzuki that second baseman Danny Espinosa could not field cleanly.
The Nationals quickly found themselves down by two runs, but the offense wasn’t backing down. Zimmerman led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk. Two batters later, Ian Desmond jumped on the first pitch he saw from Marlins reliever Bryan Morris and sent it into the batter’s eye in center field. It was a two-run homer, tying the game at 4-4.
The inning was far from over for the Nationals. Tyler Moore singled with two outs to put the go-ahead run on base. Denard Span then doubled to put runners on second and third for the red-hot Yunel Escobar. Escobar delivered, hitting a two-run single to right field to give the Nationals a 6-4 lead.
It was a career night for Escobar, who went 5-for-5 with two RBI’s.
It was also a night to remember for Nationals reliever Tanner Roark, who recorded the first save of his career. Nationals closer Drew Storen has been dominant of late, but he pitched three times in the series against the Mets and had the night off tonight. Roark didn’t disappoint, however, working around a walk to shut down the Marlins in the ninth inning and sealing a 6-4 victory for the Nationals.
Next Up: The Nationals look to secure a series win over the Marlins tomorrow night at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for the Nationals, who will face off against Marlins’ right-hander Mat Latos.