Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals seek a series victory over the Marlins this afternoon.
Entering this afternoon's game, the Nats are 9-8 against Miami. They haven't boasted a winning record against their pesky rivals from South Florida since 2007 (when they also went 10-8). In fact, from 2008-11, they were an abominable 21-50 against the Fish, who for some reason have always been a thorn in this franchise's side.
So Edwin Jackson and Co. will try to put an official end to that losing history today, with Jackson (celebrating his 29th birthday) also seeking his 10th win of the season (to join Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann as double-digit game winners in the Nats rotation).
You'll notice a couple of surprising names missing from the Nationals' lineup: Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. It's rare either guy gets a day off, but Davey Johnson has wanted to give both players a chance for a break before we hit the final stretch of the season.
It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the District. I've been told there are a few NFL games being played today, so if your TV is fixed on that sport this afternoon, rest assured you can get plenty of updates on the best team in baseball right here...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from LF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
3B Chad Tracy
SS Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Edwin Jackson
LF Bryan Petersen
CF Justin Ruggiano
SS Jose Reyes
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Carlos Lee
3B Greg Dobbs
2B Donovan Solano
C Rob Brantly
RHP Ricky Nolasco
HP Tony Randazzo
1B Bob Davidson
2B Brian Gorman (cc)
3B Todd Tichenor
1:36 p.m. -- We are underway. Birthday boy Edwin Jackson fires a ball high to Bryan Petersen to get this one started.
1:45 p.m. -- You can usually tell what kind of day Jackson is going to have based on his first inning. If that pattern holds true, he appears poised for a nice afternoon. He struck out Petersen on a nasty slider, and though he issued a 1-out walk to Justin Ruggiano, he then induced a 6-4-3 double play out of Jose Reyes to end the inning on 15 pitches.
1:51 p.m. -- Wait, did they just replay the top of the first, with uniforms switched? Ricky Nolasco struck out Steve Lombardozzi, then issued a one-out walk to Bryce Harper, then got Jayson Werth to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Exact same that happened in the top of the first. Weird. Scoreless after one.
2:07 p.m. -- That was ... well, that was not pretty. The Marlins sent three straight, two-out, groundball singles up the middle to bring home the first run of the day. Not saying any of those plays should have been made, but it's worth noting that the Espinosa-Lombardozzi middle infield combo doesn't quite have the range of the Desmond-Espinosa middle infield combo. You'd at least think the regular alignment would have had a shot at making one of those plays. It wouldn't have been that big a deal, except Harper then lost Nolasco's flyball to center field in the sun. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground, and when Espinosa dropped Harper's relay throw, two runs crossed the plate. Just like that, the Marlins are up 3-0 in the second inning.
2:34 p.m. -- Hmm, the Nats don't have a hit through three innings against Nolasco. Long way to go, obviously, but they haven't exactly made much solid contact against the right-hander so far.
2:47 p.m. -- Looks like Bad Edwin showed up on his birthday. A leadoff walk in the fourth set the table for the Marlins to score two more runs. Six of their seven hits today have come with two outs. In Jackson's defense, three of the hits were groundball singles and another was the two-run "double" that Harper lost in the sun. But he hasn't exactly looked sharp so far. The Nats trail 5-0 in the fourth.
2:54 p.m. -- Four innings in the books, zero hits for the Nats against Nolasco.
3:05 p.m. -- And Captain Hook makes an early appearance today. Davey takes the ball from Jackson with two outs in the fifth after he allowed another run. His final line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HBP, 80 pitches, 50 strikes. The Nats trail 6-0 and are still looking for their first hit of the day.
3:18 p.m. -- Well, at least they got a hit. Morse sends a solid single to left with one out in the fifth. Though he was immediately erased on a 3-6-1 double play. So Nolasco has still faced the minimum through five. It's still 6-0. Not much to see here today, folks.
3:26 p.m. -- So, on August 28, the Nationals were shut out by Nolasco in Miami. Over their next 11 games, they scored 84 runs. Until today. They've been shut out by Nolasco through six innings. Guess that's baseball for you.
3:29 p.m. -- Oh look, Giancarlo Stanton just homered. I believe that's his 478th of the year against the Nationals. His batting average against them is 3.512. It's 7-0 Marlins in the seventh.
3:50 p.m. -- We've got massive changes for the Nats. It's turned into a spring training game. Mark DeRosa now at first base, with LaRoche pulled. Roger Bernadina now in center field, with Werth pulled and Harper shifted to right field. Michael Gonzalez now pitching the eighth inning of a 7-0 game.
4:03 p.m. -- Hey, Gonzalez struck out Stanton! Give him the Cy Young! Of course, he then gave up an RBI single to Carlos Lee. So it's now 8-0 in the eighth. Anybody out there still watching?
4:17 p.m. -- Now Stanton loses a ball in the sun. Boy, the Nats better hope MLB doesn't schedule any afternoon postseason games here. That could be a real problem.
4:24 p.m. -- Nolasco takes the mound in search of his second complete-game shutout of the Nats in 12 days.
4:31 p.m. -- It's over. Nolasco goes the distance against the Nats again, and the Marlins win 8-0. The Nats end their season 9-9 against Miami, so they still haven't won a season series from them since 2007. Meanwhile, the Braves won in New York, so the lead in the NL East suddenly is down to 5 1/2 games.