Sunday, 364 days later, Marquis made his third start of the season against the Brewers at Nationals Park. He pitched into the eighth inning before he exited, ahead by two runs. He tipped his cap as he strode off the field and the crowd stood and applauded.
In his first three starts this year, Marquis has shown why the Nationals gave him a two-year, $15 million contract last winter. When he is healthy, he can be a reliable piece of a pitching rotation. It’s just three starts, but Marquis has allowed seven earned runs in 22 innings, striking out 15 and walking only three.
The 15 strikeout may actually be high for Marquis’s taste – he aims for short counts and weak contract. After he struck out Rickie Weeks in the third inning Sunday, he had 13 strikeouts in his last 8 2/3 innings.
“My focus has changed this year a lot, to just pounding the strike zone as much as possible, letting my defense do the work and trying to get deep into ballgames,” Marquis said. “I feel a lot more relaxed with that mind-set, knowing that I’m just trying to throw strikes and allow my defense to help me out.”
Marquis has always relied on groundballs more than strikeouts, but he is even more assured in that approach this season. Pitching coach Steve McCatty has stressed more than ever the importance of not walking anyone, and Marquis has followed.
“I would in the past try to live on the edge, really try to be too fine with my pitches and try to make perfect pitches every time when, obviously, I can’t,” Marquis said. “I really just focus now on pounding the bottom of the strike zone. So far, so good. I’m going to try to take that approach every time I take the ball.”
FROM THE POST
The Nationals swept the Brewers in both the series and the doubleheader, nudging them above .500 for the saeason.
Over the weekend, Sheinin watched as Bryce Harper shrugged off an early-season slump at his home opener.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Lehigh Valley 10, Syracuse 6: Chris Marrero went 3 for 3 with two home runs and a walk. Adam Carr allowed five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning on five hits, a walk and a home run.
Trenton 8, Harrisburg 0 (Game 1): The Senators managed one hit, a single by Tyler Moore, against rehabbing starter Kevin Milwood, who pitched all seven innings. Luis Atilano allowed seven runs in one inning on eight hits and a walk.
Harrisburg 8, Trenton 2 (Game 2): Jonathan Tucker went 2 for 4 with a double and a triple. Jesus Valdez went 1 for 4 with a home run. Brad Peacock allowed one earned run in five innings on two hits and one walk, striking out nine.
Wilmington 6, Potomac 0 (Game 1): Trevor Holder allowed six earned runs on eight hits and no walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four.
Wilmington 6, Potomac 5 (Game 2): Jeff Kobernus went 1 for 3 with a walk and a double.
Hagerstown 5, Lakewood 1 (Game 1): Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a run, an RBI and two strikeouts. Randolph Oduber went 1 for 3 with a home run. Bobby Hansen allowed no earned runs in five innings on five hits and four walks, striking out four.
Hagerstown 8, Lakewood 3 (Game 2): Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a walk, an RBI and a run while playing center field. Randolph Oduber went 4 for 4 with a home run. David Freitas went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk.