The Nationals needed a hero in the bottom of the ninth to secure a victory against the Florida Marlins Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, no heroics came to fruition and Washington dropped the contest 1-0.
Marlins right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez walked Jayson Werth to lead off the ninth inning and gave up a single to Laynce Nix to follow. With men on base, it looked like the Nats could pull off a late rally. Adam LaRoche, who has been struggling along with a .192 batting average, reached first after going 0-for-3 to start the day. That hit moved Werth to third and forced Nix out at second.
The next two Nats batters, Wilson Ramos and Jerry Hairston, Jr., popped out, stranding Werth and pinch runner Brian Bixler on the corners to end it.
“You’d be surprised. The energy level, the confidence in the dugout has not wavered,” Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said after the game. “The guys are just doing everything they can. [They’re] looking at tape, they’re getting extra work, doing everything they can to come out of this.”
Right-handed starter Livan Hernandez threw 110 pitches over seven inning, recording four strikeouts and two walks (one was intentional). The only blemish of Hernandez’ day was a solo shot to left-center in the seventh inning from Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton. It was Stanton’s seventh homerun of the season and second in two days.
It was a big day for Hernandez, though. He became the 108th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 3,000 innings pitched. The only active pitcher with more innings pitched than Hernandez is Boston’s Tim Wakefield who’s logged 3,095 to date.
Despite the team’s consistent inability to score runs after getting on-base, the Nationals’ bullpen continues to post quality outings. New additions Henry Rodriguez and Cole Kimball joined Doug Slaten in Saturday’s game, keeping the Marlins from scoring any more runs.
Left-hander Slaten faced Marlins center fielder Chris Coghlan to lead off the eighth inning followed by a two strikeout appearance from righter-hander Rodriguez for a three-up three-down eighth.
Kimball entered the game in the ninth after being called up from Triple-A Syracuse earlier in the day to make his Major League debut. Kimball faced four batters, striking out Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez to start things off and walking the power hitting Stanton. The outing was an overall success since the Marlins failed to score.