The Nationals, at times this season, stumbled against the Marlins’ mediocre starting rotation, and below-league-average bullpen and lineup. Over the course of a 162-game season, that is bound to happen against someone. Despite the loss, the Nationals hold a 51
2-game division lead over the Atlanta Braves. They finished a homestand 8-3 and head to New York and Atlanta for six games.
“We caught a good pitcher on his game,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “We were a little bit off ours. Overall it wasn’t a sloppy game. It was just a good old butt-whipping.”
Edwin Jackson suffered through one of his worst starts of the season, allowing six runs on nine hits over 42
3 innings. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond received rare days off, their missing presences most obvious on defense. And Marlins right-handed starter Ricky Nolasco completely fooled the Nationals hitters for a second straight complete game, running his scoreless streak against them to 22 innings.
Nolasco used an array of pitches, relying heavily on his curveball, slider and change-up. He allowed only four hits: singles by Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi, and a double by Chad Tracy. Three of those hits came in the eighth inning or later. In the first five innings, the Nationals hit into two double plays.
In a third-inning, four-pitch strikeout of Danny Espinosa, Nolasco tossed two curveballs and two sliders. Against Tracy in the second inning, the at-bat went like this: change-up, fastball, slider, change-up and a curveball that was hit for a flyout.
Most of the Nationals’ at-bats against Nolasco weren’t fruitful until it was too late. In two starts earlier this season, the Nationals shelled him for a total of eight runs over two losses. But in the past two weeks, it was the reverse.
“He can get nasty when he starts throwing that change-up and that curveball and hitting the corners with his fastball,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. “He cuts it in on left-handers, he does all kinds of stuff with the ball. . . . The guys say when he wants to, he’s one heck of a pitcher.”
Marlins hitters, on the other hand, pounced on Jackson. He allowed three straight singles in the second inning to the sixth, seventh and eighth hitters in the Marlins’ order, all hits just beyond the reach of Nationals infielders. Zimmerman and Desmond, stalwarts on the left side of Washington’s infield, watched from the dugout. Zimmerman’s day off was planned, but Desmond, after playing two full extra-inning games in as many days and nursing a minor hamstring strain for two weeks, asked Johnson to rest.