Marlins on the Rise; Nats Continue Slide

These are two franchises running in opposite directions.  Coming into this season fan’s expectations for the Nationals were high.  Those expectations are dropping faster than the batting averages of Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon.  Injuries have been a factor, but they acquired players to give their bench depth.  That depth has been absent.

The Marlins were all about Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez and wait for some of the youth to develop.  Any hope for a playoff run was for 2015, not 2014, especially after Fernandez blew out his elbow ending his year with Tommy John surgery.  The surprise is the youth are developing faster than any one expected.  The Marlins have a way of manufacturing runs to win ball games.  The Nationals find ways to spoil rallies with poor at bats with runners on base.

It all came down to a team’s ability to drive in runs with the bases loaded and less than two out.  The Nationals had the bases loaded with no one out in the bottom of the eighth.  Anthony Rendon failed to make contact after fouling a number of balls for a strikeout, Jayson Werth hit a gigantic popup to the infield that even if dropped was an infield fly, and Adam LaRoche grounded out to first to end the rally.

The Marlins loaded the bases in the top of the tenth with one out.  They did what the Nationals failed at.  Casey McGehee drove a deep drive to left that hit the wall to score one.  Reed Johnson laced a double into the corner to score two.  Donavan Solano hit a pinch hit single to score a fourth run.

The Nationals were able to tally a run in the bottom of the tenth, but by then it was too little too late.  The Nationals seem to always be late for dinner and by the time they sit at the table the food is cold and the company, meaning the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins have eaten and left for better things.

Jordan Zimmermann did not pitch well and with an ERA now above 4 this is not an aberration for 2014.  He was fortunate to have baserunning mistakes squelch Marlin rallies.  Christian Yelich led off the game with a double.  He broke for third when Derek Dietrich hit a hard grounder to Ian Desmond.  Desmond easily threw him out at third.  Giancarlo Stanton lined a single up the middle which may have scored Yelich from second, or at least advance him to third with less than two outs.  Instead it left the Marlins with first and second, inviting Casey McGehee to ground into a double play.

In the fourth the Marlins raked Zimmermann for four runs on five hits and one walk.  It could have been worse, but Giancarlo Stanton was caught between second and third when Derek Dietrich was held up at third after a Casey McGehee single.  This did not stop the Marlins from continuing their onslaught of Zimmerman.  Singles by Garrett Jones, Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechevarria drove in three runs and a poor throw to the cutoff man by Jayson Werth allowed Ozuna to race home with the fourth run.  Another case of sloppy Nationals fielding digging them a deeper hole than they need to be in.

The Nationals had their share of baserunning blunders.  Ian Desmond was thrown out at first after Giancarlo Stanton made a nice running catch of a Kevin Fransden line drive.  The Nationals put runners on first and second with two outs against Henderson Alvarez but failed to come up with the big hit.  Wilson Ramos grounded back to the pitcher in the first inning and Anthony Rendon lifted a lazy fly ball to center in the fifth.

Fortunately for the Nationals, Henderson Alvarez had to leave the game after five innings because of tightness in the elbow.  They got to relief pitcher Chris Hatcher for three in the sixth.  Back to back singles by Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos and a walk to Ian Desmond loaded the bases with one out.  Kevin Fransden struck out, but the man who appeared to be an automatic out, Nate McLouth came through with a two run double.  The Nationals were gifted their third run on a throwing error by Marlins first baseman Garrett Jones.

Wilson Ramos hit his first homerun of the year with two out in the seventh to tie the game.  The ball landed into the Marlin bullpen.  The homerun was hit off his name sake A.J. Ramos.

Game Notes:  Wilson Ramos picked off Casey McGehee in the top of the ninth with runners on first and second with two out.  In the bottom of the ninth he popped a single down the right field line, but tried to motor to second.  For Wilson, that motoring is always in fifth gear and Giancarlo Stanton easily threw him out…The Nationals were able to get a couple two out singles from Kevin Fransden and Nate McLouth in the bottom of the ninth to put runners on first and third with two outs.  Ex-Marlin Greg Dobbs came up to pinch hit and get some revenge for his release by the Marlins and finish the game with a walk off hit.  He popped to first instead to send the game into extra innings…A kid ran out on the field for twenty yards and then raced back to the lower right field bleachers by the left field foul pole.  He thought he was home free once he got back into the stands, but the hefty security guard defied gravity and was able to pull herself over the fence.  The kid then knew he was in trouble and the fence was not going to act as a force field.  He tried to run away, but a fan stopped his advance.  Here is hoping his dad is subject to a large fine and the kid has to work his tail off to pay it…With the Nationals down 4-0 and a runner on second Tyler Moore swung at a 2-0 pitch and lifted a lazy fly ball to center.  In that situation you want to get on base so taking a strike was the operative action.  One of many reasons why the Nationals have difficulty manufacturing runs…Nate McLouth was hit by a foul ball struck by Anthony Rendon when taking his lead off third base.  Rendon battled, fouling off six or seven two strike pitches, but in the end he struck out.  With the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning he flied out to the right field warning track.  He finished the night 0 for 5 to further drop his batting average…Rafael Soriano comes into the game with a 0.87 ERA, but there are calls to replace him.  He puts a lot of men on base, but very few of them score.

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