Miami Sweeps Inconsistent Nats
The Miami Marlins took all three games from the Washington Nationals in Florida this week. Washington got swept for the first time since the second series of the season versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The Nats lost three straight for the first time since April 27 to April 29.
Miami enjoyed a little bit of luck here and there throughout the series. In taking the first two games by just a run, the Marlins are now 14-1 in one run games on the year. With a -52 run differential, that record in tight games is not sustainable.
But a three-game losing streak stings no matter how you slice it. The losses seemed like a “garden variety” sweep at the hands of a division rival. However, not being able to sustain momentum from series to series remains a troubling trend for these Nats. Too many strikeouts and not enough hits in the clutch doomed the Nats in South Florida.
The Nats record fell to 18-26. They haven’t been eight games under .500 since May 1. They got very close to crawling within four games of .500 in game 1 of the series.
Game 1: MARLINS 5, Nats 4
Nats starting pitcher Josiah Gray entered the game 11th in the NL with an ERA of 2.96. In his fourth quality start in his last five, Gray lowered his ERA to 2.76. He gave up two runs (one earned), on seven hits and three walks. Josiah struck out five in seven innings, but a fielding miscue hurt his cause.
Lane Thomas got the Nats on the board with his fifth homer in the top of the sixth inning. Thomas, however, also struck out four times. For the game, Nats batters struck out twelve times. CJ Abrams and Stone Garrett struck out three times each. Joey Meneses’ nine game hitting streak came to an end. Meneses went 0 for three with a walk.
Dominic Smith (2-4, 1K) drilled a key two-out two-RBI single to put the Nats in front 4-2 after eight innings. Smith continues to appear more comfortable at the plate. Jeimer Candelario went three for three including a double, an RBI, 1 run, and a walk.
Kyle Finnegan earned his first hold of the season although he gave up two hits in the eighth inning with one strikeout. Hunter Harvey retired the first two Marlins batters in the bottom of the ninth. But then things unraveled for him and the Nats from there. Harvey blew his third save and took his first loss of the season. He allowed three runs on three hits in 2/3 innings. The final blow was a 2-run HR from Marlins DH Jorge Soler in the bottom of the ninth inning. The fact that Harvey recorded the first two outs to start the inning made it even more painful and deflating for the Nationals.
Unfortunately, that trend would continue in the next two games.
Time of Game: 2:35.
Game 2: MARLINS 4, Nats 3
In addition to the Nats struggles mentioned above, they were done in by the Marlins’ three double plays turned in the second game of the series.
MacKenzie Gore (3-3) took the loss for DC but continued his above-average effectiveness. Gore logged 5.1 innings and gave up four runs on five hits. He struck out seven, but both of his walks scored. Gore also threw two wild pitches.
In relief of Gore, Andres Machado and Carl Edwards Jr pitched a combined 2.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
Three more strikeouts from CJ Abrams offset three more hits from Jeimer Candelario (3-4, 2B, R). Corey Dickerson’s first hit as a National was a memorable one. Dickerson (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) demolished a two-run homer to the upper deck in right field.
In the end, the Nats made some good contact at the plate, but hit balls right at perfectly placed Miami defenders.
Time of game: 2:26.
GAME 3: MARLINS 5, Nats 3
In the series finale, Trevor Williams (1-2) started for the Nats and took the loss. But Williams contributed with a quality start: six innings and three runs allowed on five hits. He struck out five and walked only one.
Jeimer Candelario had his fourth consecutive multi hit game. Candelario (2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI) raised his average from an anemic .211 to a more respectable .253 by going 10-15 during that stretch. The Candy Man opened the scoring for the Nats with his fifth home run in the top of the fourth that cut the deficit to 2-1. Unfortunately, the Marlins answered with a run in their half of the fourth.
The Nats pulled within 4-3 on a double by Candelario and a single by Corey Dickerson in the top of the eighth. But again, the Nats relievers couldn’t hold the fort and Miami immediately answered with a critical insurance run in their half of the eighth off Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez and Mason Thompson each gave up a run on two hits in one inning of work.
Jake and the Streaking Lane Train
Lane Thomas (1-4) stretched his on-base streak up to a career-high 15 games. Jake Alu (2-4) had his first multi-hit game in the majors.
Time of Game: 2:16.
Nats record drops to 18-26.
ROSTER TRANSACTION of Note: The Nats signed DH Franmil Reyes to a minor league deal.
At 6’5”, 275 pounds, and only 27 years old what is not to like? In his sixth season in the majors, Reyes is a lifetime .249 hitter. But Reyes has produced two 30+ home run seasons in 2019 and 2021. The Kansas City Royals canned him after he struck out 24 times in 59 at bats. But the “Franimal” did manage two HRs and seven RBIs in that span. Last season, he hit 14 HR and 17 doubles, but struck out a whopping 157 times in 118 games.
Next Up for the DC9: The 19-22 Detroit Tigers (3rd in AL Central) for three games at Nats Park starting Friday. The Tigers are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The current Detroit run differential of -48 is twice as bad as the Nats’ -24.