If, as the old baseball truism goes, the baseball gods have given the Washington Nationals 54 wins, 54 losses, and 54 toss-ups, than Sunday afternoon’s 10-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates unquestionably falls into the second category. Jason Marquis faced just 13 batters and recorded only four outs. Hundreds of fans were still milling around in the centerfield plaza, trying to decide whether to find their seats or find a hot dog, when Neil Walker scampered home on Lyle Overbay’s RBI double to give the Pirates an 8-0 lead and cap off a five-run top of the second inning that, for all intents and purposes, ended the competitive portion of the afternoon’s entertainment.
“I left too many balls in the zone,” a grim-faced Marquis said after the game. “There wasn’t enough late action on my balls.” To his credit, Marquis didn’t make excuses, nor did he hide behind the double play that probably should have been recorded by the very second batter of the game. After allowing Alex Presley to lead off the game with a sliced single to left field, Marquis induced Chase d’Arnaud to tap a ground ball back to the mound. Trying to start the pitcher’s best friend, Marquis rushed his throw and put it at second baseman Danny Espinosa’s feet. It was a difficult play to be sure, but one that Espinosa could have (if not should have) made. Instead, the throw skipped into center field and Presley picked himself up and went to third, later scoring on an RBI single by Nate McCutchen. Walker and Overbay followed with RBI base hits of their own, and the Pirates led 3-0 after half an inning.
“It didn’t have any effect [on me],” Marquis said when asked afterwards about the botched play. “They’ve been doing a good job defensively, they’ve spent the whole year battling, and are trying to make plays.”
“Things like that shouldn’t be able to affect you,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “He just didn’t have it today.” Continue reading