The Nationals had a couple chances tonight, in the fifth and in the seventh, when they could’ve mounted a rally to beat the Marlins and snap a four game losing streak. In the fifth, they loaded the bases, but couldn’t capitalize as Adam Dunn continued his awful performance with runners in scoring position and two outs. Dunn can muscle the ball, no doubt, but in clutch situations he’s not delivering the way that other sluggers have. In the seventh, they’d get back-to-back singles from Pudge and Willy Harris, but pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez would ground into a double play and Roger Bernadina would fly out to end the effort. That would be all they could look at as they slumped off the field after dropping a 5-0 loss to Florida.
Livan Hernandez had a rough second and third inning but would largely have a good evening, going 6 1/3 of three run baseball, which is pretty impressive, all things considered. Livan would throw 116 pitches in 6 1/3, and his attempts to shave off the outside corner just weren’t working tonight. Try as he might, Pudge couldn’t frame those edge pitches far enough in to get home plate umpire Mike Winters to ring up strikes, which lead to one incident where manager Jim Riggleman had to run out to make sure that Pudge didn’t find himself ejected. The Nats were down a man in Josh Willingham, who was resting his knee, and there were some concerns about Roger Bernadina’s hamstring after his double in the first. The Nationals could ill afford an ejected player tonight playing that tight to the roster.
Craig Stammen came on in late relief for the Nationals tonight and gave up a pair of runs, and did not look impressive. He loaded the bases in the 8th, and gave up a run on a wild pitch, but rallied to retire the side on strikeouts. In the 9th, he’d find himself in trouble, giving up a walk to Hanley Ramirez, another to Gaby Sanchez and a single to Dan Uggla before he’d get the final hook. Tyler Clippard neatly tied up the 9th with a few scant pitches to finish the evening with a loss, 5-0.
The Nationals went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position tonight, which is the sort of statistic that has you scratching your head and wondering what’s wrong. The Nats have been held scoreless in 7 of their 115 games this season, with two others coming at the hands of the Marlins. Adam Dunn tonight swung through strike three against Nolasco with the bases loaded, moving his RISP-2out Average below .100.
The Nats hope for a better series this weekend against Kirk Gibson’s Arizona Diamondbacks. They’ll send Lannan and Marquis on Friday and Saturday before giving the rock to Stephen Strasburg on Sunday for the matinee.