Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals wrap up their series with the Marlins this afternoon.
Both losses came by one run -- Friday's night's 6-5 loss in 11 innings, yesterday's 1-0 loss to Anibal Sanchez -- so it's not like they've been getting overwhelmed by their division rivals. But as we've seen throughout this season to date, the Nats are pretty much built to play low-scoring, tight ballgames. Which means there are going to be a lot of close wins and a lot of close losses. There's little margin for error.
Ian Desmond is out of the lineup for the second straight day, still dealing with a quadriceps strain. Alex Cora again starts in his place at shortstop. Only lineup change from yesterday is a swap behind the plate, with Ivan Rodriguez starting and Wilson Ramos (in a 1-for-21 funk) on the bench.
Updates to come all afternoon...
MARLINS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN2, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 71 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS1:38 p.m. -- And we're underway on what has turned into a very nice afternoon in the nation's capital, with Jason Marquis facing Chris Coghlan. The Nats, by the way, have a Harmon Killebrew No. 3 jersey hanging in their dugout today.
CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Adam LaRoche
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Jerry Hairston
SS Alex Cora
P Jason Marquis
CF Chris Coghlan
2B Emilio Bonifacio
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
RF Mike Stanton
3B Greg Dobbs
C Brett Hayes
P Javier Vazquez
1:41 p.m. -- Boy, Marquis couldn't have gotten this one off to a much better start. Sets down the Marlins in order in the top of the first, needing only seven pitches, all of them strikes. That, my friends, is efficiency.
2:02 p.m. -- Javier Vazquez entered today having surrendered at least one run in the first inning of every start this season, and the streak has continued today. Big time. The Nats scored six runs in the first, getting five singles, a double, a walk and an error on left fielder Logan Morrsion. They batted around, with clutch RBI hits coming from Laynce Nix and Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge, by the way, now has 14 hits and 13 RBI for the season. He may not be hitting much, but when he does, he's certainly making them count. And then Marquis capped it all off with a two-run double down the left-field line, nearly stretching it into a triple. Quite an impressive rally to open the game. Nats lead 6-0 after one.
2:13 p.m. -- So much for the Nationals' errorless streak, which stood at nine games entering today and was just three inning shy of the Nats club record (set in 2005). Jerry Hairston threw to high to first on a grounder for only the team's second error in its last 16 games. And it came back to cost them because Morrison doubled, Mike Stanton sent a sacrifice fly to left and Brett Hayes singled in another run. It's now 6-2 in the second, both runs unearned by Marquis.
2:17 p.m. -- If you've got a few minutes to spare during the game today (maybe between innings) be sure to check out my one-on-one video interview with Drew Storen, conducted before today's game.
2:30 p.m. -- Wow, another opposing baserunner gunned down by a Nats catcher. This time, Pudge got Emilio Bonifacio to complete a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. Ramos and Rodriguez have now combined to throw out 11 of 24 would-be base stealers this season.
2:40 p.m. -- Vazquez has certainly settled down since that ragged first inning. He's retired six straight since. Nats have to be careful not to ease off the gas pedal. We've seen them have one big inning before, only to go silent the rest of the day. Can't let the Marlins creep their way back into this one. Still 6-2 after three.
3:03 p.m. -- Leave it to the Nats' best hitter to end Vazquez's string of consecutive outs at eight. No, not Ryan Zimmerman. Not Jayson Werth. Not Laynce Nix. Why, Jason Marquis of course! He's now 2-for-2 today with a double and a single. And, as astute reader Nattydread pointed out: Marquis and Matt Stairs now have the same number of at-bats this season (20). Marquis is hitting .350, Stairs is hitting .100. Maybe it's time to use Jason as the late-game pinch-hitter on days he's not on the mound?
3:26 p.m. -- Another run-scoring hit for Pudge, this time a double to left-center with two outs in the fifth to bring Werth home. So he's now got 15 hits and 14 RBI for the season. And the Nats have got a 7-2 lead after five.
3:32 p.m. -- You know, Marquis' next scheduled start is Friday at Baltimore. Wonder if there's any way Riggleman would let him hit and forfeit the DH...
3:36 p.m. -- Meanwhile in Lakewood, N.J., Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 with a walk today, ending his hitting streak at 18 games. Hagerstown did win the game, 6-2, and Harper's walk in the eighth helped ignite a rally.
3:54 p.m. -- Marquis finally showing some signs of fatigue in the seventh. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Stanton (who just seems to hit every single ball hard) and Dobbs, then a two-out RBI single to Coghlan. That cuts the lead to 7-4 and brings Todd Coffey in from the bullpen. Nice hand for Marquis as he exits, and the usual roar for Coffey as he comes sprinting in. They've even added a "Coffey Time" clock on the scoreboard here. Took him 13.3 seconds to make it from bullpen to mound.
4:00 p.m. -- Yikes, Coffey took a line drive directly off his right arm, struck by Bonifacio. He had to leave the game and was holding him arm very carefully as he exited. You hate to speculate about these things, but that could be a significant injury. Tyler Clippard all of a sudden is in the game, with two on, two out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate representing the tying run.
4:06 p.m. -- Pretty good confrontation there between Clippard and Ramirez. With the count 1-2, Hanley asked for a new bat, then got a legitimate brushback pitch underneath his chin. He paused to look at Tyler for a moment, though it didn't look like he said anything. Then on the 2-2 pitch, Clippard got him to fly out to center, ending the inning and keeping the Nats' lead at 7-4 at the seventh-inning stretch.
4:25 p.m. -- The Marlins hit Clippard pretty hard, but he escaped the eighth with no damage, thanks to a double play line drive to first, with LaRoche making the catch and tagging Gaby Sanchez out. So we head to the bottom of the eighth, still 7-4.
4:38 p.m. -- Some insurance for the Nats in the bottom of the eighth. Bernadina beats out a slow roller, allowing Pudge to score, and that makes it an 8-4 game. And with the lead now four runs instead of three (and thus no save situation anymore), Drew Storen (who had been warming in the pen) takes a seat. It'll be Cole Kimball instead for the ninth. Pretty silly, when you think about it. Not like there's much difference between a 3- and 4-run lead. Other than the fact it separates a save situation from a non-save situation.
4:49 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats win, 8-4. Marquis gets the win and improves to 5-1. And he got a couple of hits and two RBI to boot. Nice game for the right-hander.