Jul 28, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: For six innings, the Nationals were all business, getting a vintage pitching performance from Jordan Zimmermann and an opportunistic rally off the Marlins pitching staff to take a commanding, 6-0 lead and seemingly put themselves in comfortable position to improve to a season-best 13 games over .500.
But then the Marlins scored twice off Zimmermann in the seventh and then added another off Ross Detwiler in the eighth. Even so, they led by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth, with Rafael Soriano taking the mound in search of his 26th save. He never got it.
Soriano let five of the six batters he faced reach safely, with three runs scoring along the way to tie the game. Matt Williams finally summoned Jerry Blevins to try to escape the jam, but the left-hander (after striking out Christian Yelich) served up the game-winning hit to Jeff Baker over Bryce Harper’s head in left field.
On top of all that, the Nationals watched Jayson Werth depart after an awkward-looking slide in the top of the seventh, suffering what appeared to be some type of leg injury. The Nats, as has been their policy, revealed no injury information before the game ended, so it’s unclear whether Werth was seriously hurt or not.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Stymied for most of the night by Eovaldi, the Nationals finally got to the hard-throwing right-hander in the top of the sixth. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Denard Span, Anthony Rendon and Werth produced one run. Then came the biggest moment of the game, with the bases loaded, one out and Harper at the plate. Miami manager Mike Redmond summoned Jennings from his bullpen, and though the lefty got Harper to hit a sharp chopper to short on his very first pitch, the ball ate up Adeiny Hechavarria, who couldn’t start a potential inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Instead, the run-scoring error prolonged the inning and set the stage for the Nationals to add three more runs off the erratic Jennings. What had been a 1-0 pitchers’ duel at the start of the inning morphed very quickly into a 6-0 lead that should’ve been enough on this night.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Soriano’s night was a fiasco from the moment he took the mound. He walked leadoff man Casey McGehee on four pitches, then served up a double to Garrett Jones. Marcell Ozuna’s single to center brought home one run, then Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s sac fly brought home another. Adeiny Hechavarria’s triple to right-center brought home the tying run. Then after a wild pitch and a hit batter, Soriano’s night mercifully came to an end, with Matt Williams trudging to the mound asking for the ball.
KEY STAT: Harper is hitting .333 (15-for-45) with four extra-base hits and 10 RBI vs. left-handed pitchers this season.
UP NEXT: Stephen Strasburg will try to exorcise his Marlins Park demons (he has an 8.31 ERA in five career starts here) Tuesday night when he faces All-Star Henderson Alvarez. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EDT.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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