Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ryan Zimmerman took out a corner of this scoreboard with his third-inning homer.
For those who missed it, here's all you need to know about the Nats' 9-3 thumping of the Marlins...
THE PLAYING CONDITIONS
They were, in a word, sloppy. After a three-hour deluge, nearly the entire outfield was under water. When players started trickling out of the clubhouse around 9:30 p.m. to get a look at the field, most figured there was no way they'd be able to play.
But the Marlins set a starting time of 10 p.m., and crew chief Darryl Cousins believed the field was safe by then to get the game underway.
"I knew the outfield wasn't in good shape, but very seldom I've seen a ballgame called because the outfield was not playable," Jim Riggleman said. "Fortunately, nobody got hurt. The conditions were sloppy for the outfielders, but everything else was fine."
As he trotted out to right field for the bottom of the first, Michael Morse had one thought: "I was thinking about how much water's going to be in my shoes," he said.
For the first three or four innings, it was an adventure out there. Outfielders splish-splashed their way through the muck to track down fly balls. The Marlins' Logan Morrison slid about 30 feet on the grass and warning track before slamming into the bullpen wall trying to catch a first-inning foul-pop. Ryan Zimmerman smoked a line drive up the middle in the second, but as soon as the ball hit the ground, it stuck there until Cameron Maybin could come charging in to retrieve it.
"Terrible," Adam Dunn said. "It's not safe. I'm glad we did [get the game in], but still it's really not safe. I mean, when Zim crushes a ball and it doesn't even get to the center fielder, that's ridiculous. I'm just glad nobody got hurt, seriously."
The conditions gradually got better as the night wore on, with the water draining through the field. Still, it made for an interesting adventure out there.
"I've never seen a field like that," Morse said. "But you know, we played through it, and the biggest thing is we got the win."
MARQUIS' FIRST WIN
It took eight starts, five months and a long DL stint, but Jason Marquis finally earned his first win as a National. The club certainly hopes for more than that after handing the right-hander $15 million guaranteed, but this was the latest in a series of positives steps for him.
Marquis (three runs in 5 2/3 innings) wasn't as sharp as he was last week in holding the Cubs to one run over 7 1/3 innings, but he battled his way through a couple of jams and was rewarded at long last for his efforts.
"It's nice. I got the monkey off my back a little bit," said Marquis, who had been 0-7 through his first seven starts. "I signed here to help this team win. I feel like I've thrown the ball well since I came off the DL. It was a battle early on with my elbow, but we got that fixed. Now I'm starting to feel more comfortable with where I'm at. Even a day like today where I wasn't at my best, I still felt strong enough and still was able to make some pitches when I needed to."
Marquis' overall numbers (1-7, 8.13 ERA) still look gaudy, but he's progressively gotten better. In his last three starts, his ERA is 2.50. Slowly but surely, he's putting his disastrous early season performances and elbow injury behind him.
"When you look at the overall numbers, it's not pleasing to look at. Sometimes that can wear on your mind a little bit," he said. "But ultimately, I've got to just throw out those first three games and judge myself on where I'm at after the surgery. And I feel like I've been getting better time after time with that."
THE ZIMMERMAN-DUNN COMBO
Though the Nationals' lineup as a whole has struggled at times, Riggleman can still take comfort knowing he's got one of the best 1-2 power punches in baseball in Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. And when both guys connect like they did tonight, they're tough to beat.
Zimmerman absolutely crushed a third-inning changeup from Alex Sanabia to left field, striking a scoreboard on the facade of the upper deck and knocking out a panel. (The rest of the game was played at "Sun Life Stadiu.")
So, Ryan, have you ever taken a chunk out of a scoreboard before?
"I don't think so," he said. "Not that I can remember."
Not to be outdone, Dunn blasted a three-run shot to center field in the seventh, his second homer in three days after a prolonged slump.
So if you're keeping a running tally, that's now 33 homers for Dunn and 25 homers for Zimmerman. That puts them in elite company. Only one other National League tandem has combined to hit 58 home runs this season: the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
"That's huge, if you've got a couple of guys," Riggleman said. "Hopefully they're both going at the same time. But if one of them is, maybe the other one is. They're selective hitters. They know the strike zone. They're really professional hitters. But they're not just making contact. They're doing damage when they put it in play."