|Nationals parade off the field with a Sunday win over Florida. (A.Amobi)|
By Anthony Amobi, Special to Nats News Network
WASHINGTON – After a week of offense struggles, the Washington Nationals finally got their act together and hit pay dirt as they emerged victorious over the Florida Marlins, 8-4.
A solid effort by starting pitcher Jason Marquis combined with a six-run first inning by the offense helped the Nationals end a three-game losing streak. In addition, they averted a sweep at the hands of the Florida Marlins.
Ivan Rodriguez drove in three runs and Jason Marquis had a solid outing, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing four runs – two earned – in a fairly easy victory.
|Jason Marquis gutted out 6 2/3 innings to earn the win over Florida. (A.Amobi)|
The Nats are now 19-21 on the season, and considering the lack offense from the team in the first 40 games, in addition to All-Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman out due to injury, it’s amazing how they’ve managed stick around the .500 mark.
The Nationals’ offense started early jumping on the Marlins’ Javier Vazquez in the first inning. Laynce Nix added an RBI-single, followed by a Jerry Hairston groundout that gave them a 2-0 lead.
Soon after, Ivan Rodriguez’s two-run single and Jason Marquis – who helped out his own cause – plated in two runs with a double that put Washington up 6-0. Marquis tried to stretch his double into a triple, but was thrown out.
That frame energized the crowd and the Nationals rolled from there.
"Getting runs early was big. It’s been a bit of an issue for us," manager Jim Riggleman quipped in the post-game press conference.
Vazquez (2-4) took the loss for the Marlins and only lasted four innings, giving up six runs.
Ivan Rodriguez drove in his third run of the day with an RBI-double in the fifth inning. The Nationals added their eighth run in the eighth as Roger Bernadina plated in a run with an infield single.
Marquis (5-1) gave up two runs in the second inning as Gaby Sanchez reached base on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Stanton. Later on the frame, Brett Hayes plated in a run with an RBI-single.
Florida (23-16) got two more runs in the seventh off an RBI-double from Greg Dobbs and a Chris Coghlan RBI-single.
A strong Washington bullpen muzzled Florida as Tyler Clippard threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief and Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless ninth.
In other news, reliever Todd Coffey got drilled by an Emilio Bonifacio line drive on the elbow and left the game in the seventh inning. Clippard came in with two outs in the frame and ended it.
In the post game press conference, it was announced that X-rays were negative on Coffey and he was bruised. The Nationals descibe him as day-to-day at this point.
THE GOOD: Roger Bernadina was 2-for-4 on the day and is batting .344 in his brief time back in the majors so far. Many contend he should not have started the season at Triple-A, but he was probably a victim of the numbers game and having options for the minors left.
Bernadina's presence has been felt at the top of the lineup and he’s definitely been working on his game. He didn’t get any of his hits out of the infield; however, his athleticism and speed helped him out greatly on Sunday.
|Bernadina is congratulated by Pudge Rodriguez after scoring against the Marlins. (A.Amobi)|
Let’s not forget Marquis’s effort on the mound – plus with the bat. He looks like a completely different pitcher from last season. He’s a major factor as to why the Nationals have hovered around the .500 mark all season.
Although Ivan Rodriguez is a part-time catcher now, he has shown time and time again in Washington that he can get the job done when possible. He had two hits and three runs driven in on Sunday. I don’t know if he will be in a Nationals uniform at the end of the season, but he’s still definitely a useful player.
THE BAD: Adam LaRoche went 0-for-3 on the day and is batting .188 for the season. We all know that he’s a historically slow starter; however, it’s no longer ‘early’, as we’re at the 40-game mark.
The Nationals are statistically at the bottom of every offensive category, and while I am not trying to solely blame LaRoche, the bottom line is that he hits in the middle of the order. The team needs his bat to heat up sooner rather than later. We all know that, and so does he.
THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa is really scuffling at the plate despite his play in the field. He went 0-for-4 on the day and is batting .193. The Nats love Espinosa's defense, but if he doesn't straighten himself out at the plate, he could need some time off to make some adjustments.
THE STATS: 11 hits, four walks, five Ks. 6-for-11 with RISP, five LOB, 0 GIDP. E: Hairston (5)
NEXT GAME: Monday at 7:05 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. John Lannan (2-4, 4.79) faces Paul Maholm (1-5, 3.60).