Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to make it two in a row tonight at Marlins Park.
Tonight, Haren gets an opportunity to again improve on his previous start. He'll have the advantage of facing a bad Marlins lineup that's still without slugger Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder), and he'll be pitching in a big ballpark that doesn't easily surrender homers. Whether that translates into a quality start remains to be seen.
Davey Johnson has a very different looking lineup card tonight. Bryce Harper and Denard Span are being given the night off, and Danny Espinosa remins out with a bruised right hand. Harper, if you haven't been paying attention, is 0-for-13 since homering against the Braves on Friday and had some really ugly swings last night. So Jayson Werth will lead off, Roger Bernadina will play center field and Tyler Moore will get a second straight start, this time in left field.
[UPDATE AT 5:30 P.M. -- Turns out both Harper and Span are dealing with flu-like symptoms. They're scheduled to see a doctor at 6 p.m. But with those two and Espinosa out, Davey Johnson is going with a 2-man bench tonight: Chad Tracy and Jhonatan Solano. He went around asking if any relievers could play the outfield in an emergency. The consensus was that Craig Stammen would be the best choice.]
Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Marlins Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 187
RF Jayson Werth
CF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
2B Steve Lombardozzi
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Dan Haren
RF Chris Coghlan
LF Juan Pierre
3B Placido Polanco
1B Greg Dobbs
CF Justin Ruggiano
C Rob Brantly
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
2B Donovan Solano
RHP Alex Sanabia
HP Jerry Layne (cc)
1B Greg Gibson
2B Mike Estabrook
3B Alan Porter
5:30 p.m. -- Turns out both Harper and Span are dealing with flu-like symptoms. They're scheduled to see a doctor at 6 p.m. But with those two and Espinosa out, Davey Johnson is going with a 2-man bench tonight: Chad Tracy and Jhonatan Solano. He went around asking if any relievers could play the outfield in an emergency. The consensus was that Craig Stammen would be the best choice.
7:11 p.m. -- And we are underway with a ball from Alex Sanabia to leadoff-man-for-the-day Jayson Werth.
7:19 p.m. -- A couple of baserunners for the Nats in the top of the first, with Werth delivering a leadoff single to right and Ryan Zimmerman drawing a two-out walk. But nothing came of it, mostly because Roger Bernadina hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Not entirely Bernadina's fault; he scorched a hard grounder that nearly knocked Donovan Solano (aka "The Shallot") off his feet, but Solano recovered nicely to turn the double play.
7:27 p.m. -- Solid start to Dan Haren's night. He got through the bottom of the first on 16 pitches, allowing a one-out single to Juan Pierre but nothing else. All three outs came on flyballs, which reminds me to mention this: Haren's biggest issue since joining the Nats (including spring training) has been his penchant for giving up home runs. Well, do you know how many homers the Marlins have hit as a team so far this season? Two. Yes, two. Between that fact and the size of this ballpark, this certainly feels like a better matchup for Haren than his previous two. Scoreless through one.
7:37 p.m. -- Ian Desmond delivers his seventh double of the season, tops in MLB, but it's wasted. The big problem in the bottom of the second was Tyler Moore, who followed that leadoff double by striking out on a pitch well out of the zone. That's not a professional at-bat with nobody out and a man on second.
7:44 p.m. -- Good sign from Haren so far tonight: He's keeping the ball down in the zone, a must given his lack of velocity. He retired the side in the bottom of the second, on a strikeout and two groundballs. So he's through two scoreless on 29 pitches (19 strikes).
8:05 p.m. -- More good stuff from Haren in the third as he retires the side again on a strikeout and two groundballs. He continues to keep the ball down in the zone, and he's working very quickly. Only 40 total pitches (26 strikes) through three scoreless for the right-hander. The Nats, meanwhile, have put six men on base against Sanabia but have yet to score.
8:26 p.m. -- And everything falls apart in the bottom of the fourth. It began with something we've seen to many times recently: a Zimmerman throwing error on a routine play. Zim's throw wasn't horrible, but it was enough to pull LaRoche off the bag and allow Polanco to reach safely. That's Zimmerman's fourth error of the season, his third in five games. And it was costly, because the Marlins then proceeded to get a pair of singles and ultimately a three-run homer by Adeiny Hechavarria to open up a 4-0 lead. All four runs are unearned, but Haren has to take some responsibility, too. Especially for the home run pitch: an 85-mph splitter right down the heart of the plate. The Nats have some work to do now, down four runs heading to the fifth.
8:34 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Roger Bernadina had finally recorded his first hit of the season ... he gets called out by plate ump Jerry Layne for running inside the baseline and interfering with Sanabia's throw to first base. On replay, it definitely looked like the right call. Roger was running on the grass, not even the dirt path in fair territory.
8:53 p.m. -- Yikes, this one really got ugly in a hurry. Haren gave up three more hits in the fifth, then picked the absolute worst possible time to issue his first walk of the season: with the bases loaded. That was all Davey could bear to watch. He strolled to the mound and took the ball from his veteran starter, who in three starts this year has yet to make it to the sixth inning. Not what they paid him $13 million to do. Not at all. Craig Stammen entered in relief and exacerbated the problem by surrendering a two-run double to Justin Ruggiano. So it's now 7-0 Marlins through five innings. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
9:04 p.m. -- Well, maybe it's not over quite yet. The Nats managed to finally score off Sanabia in the sixth, getting three doubles from LaRoche, Moore and Lombardozzi to trim the lead to 7-2. They're running out of time, but they haven't completely thrown in the towel quite yet.
9:20 p.m. -- Doesn't look like a major rally is in the works. The Nats went down quietly in the seventh, with Bernadina striking out to fall to 0-for-8 for the season. They're down to their last six outs, and Henry Rodriguez is taking the mound for the bottom of the seventh, still trailing 7-2.
9:32 p.m. -- Make it 8-2 as Henry Rodriguez gives up a run in the seventh, that run scoring in large part because H-Rod essentially let Juan Pierre steal both second and third bases.
9:39 p.m. -- They're playing "Sweet Caroline" here in the eighth inning in honor of Boston. It appears this is happening across MLB tonight. Cool tribute.
9:46 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, Nats down 6.
9:55 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats lose, 8-2. It's their fourth loss in five games.